UniversityFrackingTennessee

The University of Tennessee wants to allow hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas on a state-owned tract of rolling woodland, raising the hackles of environmentalists who question its stated goal of raising funds to research the environmental impact of such drilling.

With debate over “fracking” continuing, the unique proposal is being considered when many universities say they don’t have enough money to properly study the environmental implications of an increasingly popular and lucrative method for energy companies to remove gas or oil from rock formations by forcing liquids underground at high pressure.

“We have not been able to find any instances of a university drilling on their land and funding their research with revenues from the drilling activities,” said Gwen Parker, a Nashville-based staff attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. Her group is taking a lead in trying to block the move, saying the university’s proposal raises ethical concerns.