The University of Tennessee will begin the bidding process to lease land in Morgan and Scott Counties for fracking, hydraulic fracturing. UT will receive royalties from the production of gas or oil, all in the name of research.

That money, said UT officials, would finance the research into how fracking affects surrounding wildlife, geology and air and water quality.

The land is north of I-40 at Harriman, between Oliver Springs and Wartburg. Here are some of the potential parcels.

Morgan County, State Road 62, Parcel Number 120 129.0, 2,777 acres, just south of Frozen Head State Park
Morgan County, US Route 27, Parcel Number 130 017.0, 1,197 acres, just south of Frozen Head State Park
Scott County, Morgan/Scott County line, Parcel Number 150 006.0, 2,659 acres, just north of Frozen Head State Park

CE Petro's picture

UT Getting In While the Gettins' Good?

Interesting, since there is controversy on industry funded university research on fracking already.

SUNY Buffalo shuts down newly formed Shale Resources and Society Institute.

In October Penn State Fracking study ends.

Meanwhile, in September, Forbes ignored the previous industry-paid controversial university research to call for more university research.

On the other hand, I was talking with a real estate agent in PA who works in an area that has been greatly fracked. She said homes near fracked areas are not selling at all, people are afraid to buy homes where wells have been, or may be contaminated.

Fracking doesn't just destroy the land, it has far-reaching consequences.

S Carpenter's picture

maybe addressing some of these concerns?

Questions raised about industry, academia relationship
Oil, gas drilling partners won't be 'driving' research

Average Guy's picture


Before the first frack occurs, UT should first get the lucky company that gets the contract to disclose the chemicals they use. Because of Cheney's sweetheart nod to his former company Haliburton, it's something we still don't know.

Average Guy's picture

Fingers in the energy pie

As governor, he has fingers in bio (Genera), rail and now natural gas.

And while indirect, I'd say as governor he has some influence over TVA.

So yes, it appears petroleum will remain the future in Tennessee.

Stick's picture

Wonder if they'll 'study'

Wonder if they'll 'study' trade secrets?

Stick's picture

Don't forget real estate

Don't forget real estate specualtion and an ever expanding number of "deans" earing six figures all the while academic programs are facing cut backs. I look around campus and see construction everywhere, yet Claxton leaks like a sieve every time it rains. And don't get me started about their marketing campaign...

fischbobber's picture

The Study

What concerns me about the study is the locale and the lack of call for volunteers. A study of this type would by definition require an extensive inventory of biological diversity with particular emphasis on pollution sensitive species and an extensive inventory of groundwater flow and quality. I doubt either of these exist in the test area. I'd like to see the test methodology extensively reported and critiqued both by local citizens whose lives may be impacted and the scientific community including all the disciplines that could have an impact (hydrologists, biologists, geologists etc.).

It would almost appear that the location of the study was picked because of its remote nature (the same reason Brushy Mountain Prison was located in the area) and low risk of consequence should the study prove to be an abject failure and watersheds and groundwater flows were destroyed by toxic chemicals.

fischbobber's picture

Groundwater Hydrology

This experiment has the potential to extensively damage The Obed, New, Clinch and Emory River watersheds. Depending on the chemicals used, the watersheds could require thousands of years to recover and all four rivers could be rendered unfit for any sort of human use i.e. irrigation, drinking water, recreation, commercial fishing, scientific study etc. I'm skeptical.

The plus side is that a can of propane could drop from fifteen to twelve dollars a fill-up making it somewhat cheaper to grill hamburgers.

Tess's picture


There is no other word for it. It is disgusting.

Don't forget that TVA already destroyed Swan Pond in Roane County with the coal ash spill.

(I know that TVA and UT are not the same but both seem to think they are above natural laws and earth balance.)

My point is we have to quit destroying our nest. (the old saying is shitting our nest, I believe...)

michael kaplan's picture

In a way, this reminds me of

In a way, this reminds me of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment.

The Tuskegee syphilis experiment (also known as the Tuskegee syphilis study or Public Health Service syphilis study) was an infamous clinical study conducted between 1932 and 1972 in Tuskegee, Alabama by the U.S. Public Health Service to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis in poor, rural black men who thought they were receiving free health care from the U.S. government.

Average Guy's picture

I guess the moral is,

don't live in impoverished areas: (link...)

Feel bad for Morgan and Scott, but a watershed is a watershed.

Have our plutocrats figured out a way to live without drinkable water?

Factchecker's picture

Fossil fuels are just bad, and we're hooked

There's probably a lot of routine coal extracting that's at least as bad and I suppose this is ostensibly being done in the name of science, but this would only reveal problems when "good" fracking practices are employed. How would they know if the fracking done here will be representative of the way it is commonly done? I'm concerned there's an "old west" environment now, where extractors are going nuts getting gas out and few, if any, regulations or regulators. Some water well quality and seismic problems are said to be attributed to so-called bad actors practicing improper "bad" fracking practices.

And as they're overdrilling capacity and the price falls as much as it has, how much leaking and uncapped lines are there before new wells are properly leak free? It's cheap to just leave them open until they can deal with them.

Also, how long after fracking is complete is an acceptable time to study the area before being reasonably certain of long term effects? The geology of one region is probably not indicative of the entire country for latent issues.

Still, we all act as though we aren't the ones using fossil fuels or somehow shouldn't be responsible for any environmental risks, which are inevitable.

Mello's picture

Our fracking food chain

I would rather see them frack the UT Dairy Farm.

bizgrrl's picture

Hah. The old one by the

Hah. The old one by the Tennessee River or the new one in Walland?

Mello's picture

Frack the Farm!

Walland. Fracking Big South Fork will net no results that are not already widely known.

Fracking the Farm! Wow! What an opportunity for UT!

Dr. Lannett Edwards, a researcher in the UT Department of Animal Science who plans to utilize the facility, had one word to describe the quality the new farm, “Wow!” Edwards explained the importance of the animal friendly design, which emphasizes cow comfort, and how cow comfort can also contribute to milk quality and the success of an operation. In an address at the ribbon cutting, she also explained the importance of research farms to current and future farmers. “This is where we are going to train our youth and develop our leaders of tomorrow as well as conduct high quality, industry-relevant research,” she said


Fracking next to the Little River. Upstream from the cities' drinking water intake! And don't forget the impact of the trucks on the county roads. Oh, yeah! FRACK the FARM!

R. Neal's picture

Interesting you mention the

Interesting you mention the U.T. dairy farm.

If I'm not mistaken, they closed down the one near campus (that was making them money from dairy production, not to mention whatever research they were doing there) to build a golf course. There are lots of golf courses in the Knoxville area (23 public and private by my count). Seems like they could have contracted with one or two of them for a lot less than building their own, which seems to be taking forever.

I guess fracking will make up for the lost revenue, help pay for the golf course, and maybe have some left over to pay a new football coach.

fischbobber's picture

U.T. Golf Practice Facility

I thought that thing was supposed to be open to area junior golfers. What happened with that?

There is no way to justify a facility like that for the exclusive use of twenty people.

Edit: I'm not totally to blame for this post ending up in a fracking thread. I was lured.

rht's picture

conflict of interest / outright fraud

Univ of Texas study was a farce. (link...)
"...The fracking study is now a black eye to the University of Texas after an independent review of national experts found it scientifically unsound and tainted by conflicts of interest. The author of the study, Dr. Charles Groat, retired in the wake of the scathing review, and the university announced that Dr. Raymond Orbach, head of the university's Energy Institute that released the study, has resigned his position.

The original fracking study concluded that hydraulic fracturing was safe, the danger of water contamination low and suggestions to the contrary mostly media bias. But then it was reported this summer that Professor Groat sat on the board of a natural gas drilling company and received more than a million and a half dollars in compensation. That information was not disclosed in Groat's report..."

fischbobber's picture

This article is timely to this discussion


This by way of TN Guerilla Women. Thanks to them.

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