The University of Tennessee is officially seeking bidders who want to drill natural gas wells on land it owns on the Cumberland Plateau.
Reports indicate UT released its request for bids on Friday.
The proposal has generated controversy because it will involve a process known as fracking to extract the gas. Energy companies use the procedure to remove gas or oil from rock formations by forcing liquids underground at high pressure. Those opposed to the effort cite concerns that the process could pose to the environment.
The university says it plans to use revenue from the lease to study the effects of fracking on the environment.
Under the proposal, companies would have access to more than 8,000 wooded acres in Scott and Morgan counties.