A petition is circulating, calling on the chancellor of the University of Texas to change the way fracking is done on UT lands.
In a report released September 8th by Environment Texas, it claims the fracking done these lands destroys the environment.
Environment Texas refers to the McDonald Observatory in their report as an example of an unintended impact caused by fracking. They say the light pollution from fracking affects the ability to preserve the dark skies and conduct astronomical research. With more environmentally conscious practices, this, too can be fixed.
There are roughly 2.1 million acres managed by University Lands in West Texas. Andrews County alone has more than 2,000 wells. Crockett County follows with 557 wells, and Reagan County with 486.
"The production on UT lands represented something like 11% of production in the Permian Basin. So they're not a small player," said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas.
Environment Texas says now is time for change. They want to ban the worst practices of fracking on UT lands.
They say our environment is paying the price.
"Excess amounts of pollution to the air, to our climate, wasteful water use, degradation of the lands," said Metzger.
The CEO of University Lands says, Mark Houser, says they go far beyond state and federal regulations required to protect their lands, and they keep up with evolving technology.
"The report cites 1.6 million gallons of spills since 2008. That's about the equivalent of one can of Coke per acre, per year over the 8-year period. Almost all of these spills have been cleaned up," said Houser.
2014 numbers show fracking only made up 1% of water use in Texas.
Administrators say money made off university lands goes to an endowment fund that supports both UT and Texas A&M systems.
"Scientifically-based reports that offer truly useful suggestions on the environmental impacts of energy production should examine the relative impacts of all forms of energy. This report, unfortunately, is one-sided, focusing predominantly on fracking, therefore bringing it's scientific validity into serious question," said Houser.
Environment Texas says they spoke with Chancellor McRaven who responded positively to their proposal. They say if University Lands cleans up their operations, they could pave the way for others to do the same.