Spatial environmental inequality in Lubbock, Texas

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Environmental inequality is the notion that the spatial distribution of environmental health hazards, hazardous waste processing and releasing facilities is unequally distributed across space, with ethnic and racial minority communities being disproportionately impacted. Prior research has found that hazardous waste facilities are more often located in and around minority neighborhoods. We conducted a study evaluating and quantifying environmental inequality in Lubbock, Texas. Our study analyzed both spatial and statistical relationships between demographics and proximity to hazardous waste releasing facilities. Hazardous waste facility data incorporated into the study were collected from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). These point-source polluting sites release hazardous waste into the environment either via the air, water or runoff at varying quantities. 2010 Demographic data, including census block group shapefiles were extracted from the US Census Bureau’s website. A multiple regression was run to test the relationships between race, education, income and proximity to hazardous waste facilities. Using GIS, nearest neighbor analyses and Ripley’s K were also conducted.
A statistically significant spatial relationship was found between the proximity to hazardous waste facilities, minority communities, educational attainment as well as median income. A very significant inequality exists in Lubbock. With new advances in spatial analysis, it is now possible to measure how disadvantaged a community may be.

This thesis won 1st Place in the Texas Tech University Outstanding Thesis and Dissertation Award, Mathematics, Physical Sciences & Engineering, 2014.

Environmental inequality, Environmental justice, Lubbock, Texas