University of Tennessee-Knoxville's “frackademia” program proposal - set to transform UT's Institute of Agriculture into a de facto fracking land leasing agency - has been put to rest for now, according to The Tennesseean. In short: the university's premiere leasing proposal for acreage didn't recieve a single bid.
UT-Knoxville's proposed program - as revealed in a DeSmogBlog investigation - intended to research wells fracked on 8,600 acres of Cumberland Forest land owned by UT that sits on top of the Chattanooga Shale basin. UT-Knoxville would lease the acreage off to Big Oil under the nullified plan.
The proposal called for an initial fee of $300,000 paid by companies interested in fracking, an additional $300,000 per year, 15-percent royalties on any gas sold and a minimum of $35 per acre paid to UT-Knoxville.
“It would create a rare, controlled environment in which experts could study the environmental impact of the controversial drilling technique, while also generating revenue to finance research,” explained a March 2013 New York Times article on the proposal.
For now, the “controlled environment” conception serves as merely a prologue, its future at UT-Knoxville - if any at all - still undetermined.
“At this point, I am unsure of the next steps, if any,” Kevin Hoyt, Director of UT's Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center - which manages the Cumberland Forest - said in a press statement. “Those decisions will be up to UT Institute of Agriculture leadership.”
It might also be up to other key important players, too: the Haslam family.