Research results could influence industry standards and state regulations, Boehnke reports. "We have the ability to do this in a controlled manner, controlled science, where it will be peer-reviewed and it can be trusted. That's why we believe we need to weigh in here," said UT Institute of Agriculture director Larry Arrington. There's a clause in the contract that would allow UT researchers to "pull the plug if anything goes wrong," he said.
Tennessee is "a small-scale producer" of oil and gas, making some of the more common environmental concerns about fracking not as severe, Boehnke writes. The state's Chattanooga Shale is shallow, no more than about 3,000 feet deep. Companies often use nitrogen to frack shallow shale rather than typical hydraulic fracturing chemicals. There's been little research conducted about nitrogen fracking, Arrington told Boehnke. (Read more)