Tag Archives: natural

State Agencies Eye Natural Gas Fracking on Public Land

A review of UT records leading up to the state’s fracking decision last month shows the question of fracking public land in Tennessee is not new, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
As far as back as 2002, when UT first shopped the idea of seeking oil and gas drilling bids on its property to the executive subcommittee of the State Building Commission, there was interest among other state agencies with custody of big bodies of land in East Tennessee where the underground Chattanooga shale deposits may hide today’s new gold — natural gas.
One day after the university’s first pitch before the subcommittee on Oct. 22, 2002, UT’s Alvin Payne, assistant vice president of UT office of capital projects, wrote a memo to report the results of the meeting to Jack Britt, vice president of UT Institute of Agriculture:
“There was extensive interest in this area by multiple state agencies such as the Department of Environment and Conservation, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Department of Correction, etc. All of the agencies were supportive of our initiative and would like to potentially do something similar to that which we propose.”
The memos and dozens of other documents and emails were obtained by the Southern Environmental Law Center using Freedom of Information Act requests. SCLC shared them with the newspaper.
….Meg Lockhart, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation said neither she nor Jonathon Burr in TDEC’s mining section have heard of anyone suggesting the state drill on its own property for state gain.
But TDEC has worked with UT and drillers on UT’s draft “research plan” and took it to the governor’s office.
In a March 18, 2012, email exchange between Bryan Kaegi, who represents Consol Energy, and Larry Arrington, chancellor of UT’s Institute of Agriculture, Arrington states: “Our strategy (and they agreed) was to have TDEC help push for approvals. …”
In another email exchange between the two on Aug. 20, 2012, Kaegi tells Arrington: “I have spoken with Administration and TDEC and both have said ball is in UT hands.”
Less that two months later, UT officials met with Jonathan Burr and Paul Schmierbach of TDEC. In UT debriefing notes, Schmierbach offered the following comments:
“Be prepared for the worst from the environmental community — but their actions will not sway the Governor’s office resolve/support.”

New ‘Fracking’ Rules Approved for TN

Despite concerns from residents and environment groups, the Tennessee Oil and Gas Board approved new rules Friday for the controversial natural-gas extraction practice known as fracking, according to The Tennessean.
Officials with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation said the regulations provide oversight and will help protect residents if large-scale fracking takes place in Tennessee.
Fracking, or fracturing, is a method in which water and chemicals are injected into shale to break apart rock and release natural gas. The practice can already legally take place in Tennessee.
“Anything we pass today is more stringent than what we have now,” said Jonathon Burr, a program manager with TDEC’s Division of Water Resources.
Still, residents and environmental groups said the state should take more time to put in place rules that protect the public and Tennessee’s water resources. In some states, regulators have found cases in which fracking has led to water pollution.
“Our water table is the most precious natural resource that we as Tennesseans own,” said Richard Diamond, a retired attorney and member of the Swan Conservation Trust in Lewis County. “We can live without natural gas but we cannot live without water.”
Friday’s meeting of the Oil and Gas Board lasted all day and was its last before it merges with the Tennessee Water Quality Control Board on Monday. The six-member board approved the new rules 5-0, with member Peter Claussen leaving before the vote was taken.
The new rules contain pages of technical requirements on how gas wells should be drilled and monitored. The rules also include a public notice requirement and a provision requiring that gas operators disclose in post-drilling reports what chemicals were used in fracking, unless they are considered a trade secret.

TN Ranked 11th Most ‘Toxic’ State by Environmental Group

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kentucky is the worst state in the nation when it comes to toxic air pollution from coal-fired power plants, according to a report released Thursday by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
The analysis examined emissions from power plants in 2010, the most recent data available.
As for the other states bordering Kentucky, Ohio ranked 2nd, Indiana 4th, West Virginia 5th, Tennessee 11th, Virginia 12th, Missouri 15th and Illinois 16th. Delaware was No. 20 in the group’s “Toxic Twenty” states.
As for Kentucky, Council officials said its power plants are “poorly controlled” and that it has “failed to … adopt any kind of state law or regulation that requires substantial reduction in mercury or toxic pollution from the power sector.”
The report said Tennessee was one of the few states to increase its output of toxic air pollutants from 2009 to 2010, spewing out 9.6 million pounds of pollutants from its power plants. Power plants in Tennessee emitted 8.8 million pounds of pollutants in 2009.

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Cummins Falls Is Newest State ‘Natural Area’

Cummins Falls in Jackson County will become a state “natural area,” reports WPLN following approval of the purchase Monday by the State Building Commission.
The natural waterfall north of Cookeville had been held by private owners until last year. Then conservation groups scrambled to find funding. The state’s half a million dollars is the final piece of a $1.4 million transaction.
State Comptroller Justin Wilson is a members of the State Building Commission. He’s also a former commissioner of environment and a fan of the waterfalls.
“I’m very familiar with the area. It’s a beautiful place, it’s a beautiful falls,” he said.
As a “natural area,” Cummins Falls will be maintained in a primitive state, without the usual development to be opened as a park. Kathleen Williams of the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation says there are plans for two rangers to be assigned to the area.