State officials put off a proposal Thursday to let the University of Tennessee take bids for drilling rights on some of its land. Skeptics fear it would open thousands of acres on the Cumberland Plateau to hydraulic fracturing.
The University was asking for the okay to take bids to drill natural gas on more than eight thousand acres of land in Morgan and Scott Counties, and waive appraisals of the leased mineral rights.
Anne Davis with the Southern Environmental Law Center says UT, which requested the deferral from the state building commission, may have been surprised how much attention it was getting.
“People are just asking a lot of questions, so I think it’s a good thing that it’s been deferred, and it’ll give the public an opportunity to really look at this.”
The SELC says going forward it hopes officials will consider the land’s conservation value. They say permitting drilling would’ve meant building roads for trucks, as well as waste pits.
Previously: Environmental groups seek to block UT’s fracking proposal – Knoxville News Sentinel
Note: An earlier version of this story did not clearly state the University of Tennessee requested the deferral.