We, the undersigned faculty, staff, and students across the numerous campuses of the University of Tennessee do NOT support the possible lease by the University of Tennessee of 8,600 acres of public land in the Cumberland Forest for the purpose of natural gas and oil drilling. While some countries and certainly some states and counties here in the U.S. have placed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking")--the process used to extract natural gas and oil--Tennessee maintains extremely lax regulations on well sites to the detriment of the natural environment, to the detriment of wildlife and herd animals, and to the detriment of human health.
As the regulating body in our state, the Division of Water Pollution Control at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) maintains regulations that are not even on par with those endorsed by the American Petroleum Institute. Specifically, our state's regulations require a mere 200 feet of horizontal separation between an oil or gas well and an active drinking water well; 100 vertical feet separating the bottom of the protective well casing and the deepest aquifer; 200 feet from a home; and a mere 100 feet from a nearby stream. These regulations are NOT sufficient for pristine spaces like the Cumberland Forest; nor are they sufficient for the land throughout our counties. This is our home! Any UT lease of public land to energy companies for gas and oil drilling undermines the trust that the people of this great state put in higher education and its affiliated groups.
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