1,000 signatures reached
To: University of Tennessee Board of Trustees
Tell the UT Board of Trustees: Don't Frack the Cumberland Forest
We want the UT Board of Trustees to consider whether this fracking research proposal is suitable for the University, and we ask it to allow citizens, faculty, and students to present information and a perspective different from that of the Administration.
The Board of Trustees needs to act on this issue, which is within its scope of authority and responsibility, before UTIA completes the request for proposal process and awards a contract to an industry partner.
Why is this important?
The University of Tennessee Institute for Agriculture (UTIA) has proposed a research project in the Cumberland Forest to investigate the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for natural gas. The proposal includes a partnership with a gas industry company that will do the drilling and extraction of natural gas.
The University of Tennessee owns and conducts ecological and forestry research on an 8,600-acre forest. The forest was subjected to strip mining for coal 40–60 years ago but has since recovered its ecological integrity to a great extent. UT stands to gain $2 – 3 million per year from UTIA's proposal, consisting of lease fees and royalties on gas production. The proposal specifies a minimum of one well per year for 20 years. A correspondence trail going back more than 10 years indicates the university initially proposed such a project strictly as a revenue generator. After being turned down several times by the state of Tennessee, UT now has joined a research project on the commercial operation and is being encouraged by the state government.
There are a number of serious problems with the proposal:
1. Institutional conflict of interest. How can UT conduct credible research on the effects of fracking when it is being paid by the company doing the fracking?
2. Lack of transparency – UT has not gone through an effective public-participation process, even though it is proposing to dispose of public assets and to damage public trust lands.
3. Lack of credible research proposal. There is up to now no scientifically valid research proposal to support this project. There have been only vague, generic statements as to what the research is supposed to do.
4. The proposal jeopardizes the integrity and value of the Cumberland Forest for ecological research. It also jeopardizes the quality of downstream, unpolluted headwaters.
To date, a coalition of environmental organizations, students, and faculty has met with UT administrators, written to and demonstrated before the State Building Commission, which authorizes these proposals, written to the UT Board of Trustees, and organized opposition among the student body and faculty. We are now trying to influence the Board of Trustees to exercise its authority over the university and take an objective look at this proposal. The board meets October 17-18, and we need to pressure it to allow independent voices to present their perspective.
We encourage everyone signing this petition to also write a personal letter to the Board of Trustees expressing to them why you, as a concerned citizen of Tennessee, alumni or current student/faculty of the university, or otherwise are opposed to this proposal. We have provided extensive documentation to aid you in those efforts. See here: http://earthroot.net/frackconference/take-action/
BREAKING NEWS: UTIA has now pushed the bid opening date for gas industry bids back to September 6. The date of the awarding of the contract has been pushed back to sometime in November – after the UT Board meets to discuss the fracking proposal. This is good news; we need to keep up the pressure on the Board!
Editorial: UT must be open about fracking research project http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2013/jun/06/editorial-ut-must-be-open-about-fracking-project/
Green groups want to speak out against fracking at UT meeting
Please join us at the 2013 Fracktivist Conference to discuss
this and other issues with fracking in TN and beyond!
Knoxville, TN from September 13-15, 2013!
How it will be delivered
We will deliver the petitions to the UT Board of Trustees during their October board meeting.