UT Fracking Decision Delayed

The University of Tennessee on Thursday asked a state panel to delay taking up the school’s fracking research proposal for 30 days to allow more time to meet with concerned residents and environmental groups, reports the News-Sentinel.
A caravan of at least half-dozen university officials made the trip to Nashville, but decided before the meeting to request a deferral from a subcommittee of the State Building Commission, UT Agriculture Chancellor Larry Arrington said.
“I’d have rather gotten it done (Thursday), and I believe we could have done it. But it feels right to wait 30 days and let people have their say,” Arrington said. “But we were here and we felt like we needed to be in that room in case somebody wanted to say something.”
The standing room only meeting of the executive subcommittee was to approve documents that would allow UT to start the bidding process with companies interested in drilling wells on university land on the Cumberland Plateau.
Once UT enters talks with the winning bidder, the lease would have to come back before the full State Building Commission for approval.
UT is seeking approval to conduct research on the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing, a newly popular and controversial natural gas extraction method.
A coalition of a about a dozen environmentalists, including staff from the Southern Environmental Law Center and members of the newly formed Frack-Free Tennessee group, a newly formed group, also attended Thursday’s meeting.
“I think our presence here may have made a small difference,” said Eric Lewis, who formed the Frack-Free Tennessee group last fall. “I don’t think UT would have deferred unless they thought they were going to lose.”

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