Interested parties may submit questions and concerns

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture has posted an online questions and answers column to address issues regarding the proposed gas and oil research initiative. Anyone interested in finding out more about the project is invited to submit questions via email to gas&oil@tennessee.edu and to view the answers linked online at https://ag.tennessee.edu/Pages/Gas-and-Oil.aspx
UTIA officials say questions submitted through the site will be answered by email and answers will also be posted online for others to see as well. Officials also invite the public to examine the background materials already posted at the website, which is dedicated to explaining the proposed research initiative.   
The initiative calls for the study of environmental risk factors related to oil and gas development on the grounds of UT’s Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center. The goal is to provide baseline data to advance industry-specific best management practices specific to extracting natural gas and petroleum resources from the Chattanooga shale formations common throughout East Tennessee and the region.  The university proposes to enter a lease agreement with private industry to extract the resources from its Cumberland Forest located in Scott and Morgan counties while studying the methodologies and their environmental effects.  
The proposed fact-based, scientific investigation will seek to answer critical research questions regarding the relationships between the development of gas and oil resources through a process called fracking and water quality, wildlife habitat, soil disturbance, geological shale, and individual species of flora and fauna.
The property is documented to have reserves of natural gas and oil and UTIA scientists say it’s an ideal location for university-based research into societal concerns regarding natural gas and oil development.
UTIA held an open house to introduce the research initiative to the public on Dec. 6 in Wartburg, and has been in contact with community groups, industry, state agencies, and landowners since that date seeking input on the research plan as well as addressing public concerns.  On Jan. 31, UTIA deferred consideration of the proposal by the State Building Commission, which is required to approve the lease, until later this month to allow for additional public input.
###
 
The Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center is an 11,500 acre field research laboratory, which has been engaged in natural resources stewardship and research since 1936. The center is a regionally recognized leader in developing new technologies applicable to modern forestry and wildlife resources management and environmental stewardship. The FRREC is one of 10 research and education centers in the UT Institute of Agriculture’s AgResearch system. Headquartered in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the Forestry Resources Center is comprised of three forest units located in East and Middle Tennessee.  
 
###

Contacts:
Doug Edlund or Patricia McDaniels, UTIA Marketing and Communications, 865-974-7141