MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) -- University of Tennessee officials will be back in Nashville this Friday to ask the state for permission to drill for oil in East Tennessee’s Cumberland Forest using a controversial extraction process called fracking.
UT says it wants to conduct research on the fracking process, which involves using explosives to crush oil bearing stone, then using chemicals under pressure to extract the oil.
The State Building Commission was supposed to take up the proposal in February, but UT asked that the hearing be deferred after environmental groups raised concerns.
The Southern Environmental Law Center is one of the groups objecting to the project. Spokesperson Gwen Barker says the SELC isn’t opposed to drilling per se, and believes additional research on fracking is a good idea. They just don’t believe UT is being honest about its motivations.
“I believe the main motivation is money. The university was very candid about that for several years, that they were pursuing an oil and gas lease for the revenue that it would provide.”
At Friday’s meeting, UT will ask the state for permission to open the project to drilling companies for bids. They’ll have to return for final approval once a bid has been accepted.