In light of UT's involvement in controversial environmental issues like fracking and coal mining, former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson will be speaking on campus.

Richardson's speech, "Policies America Should Follow to Protect the Environment," will be held at 6 p.m. today in the Baker Center's Toyota Auditorium. The presentation is part of the Baker Center's Baker Distinguished Lecture series on Energy and the Environment. Nissa Dahlin-Brown, associate director of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, is excited for the expertise that Richardson brings to the field.

"This is a unique opportunity to hear Gov. Richardson," Dahlin-Brown said. "He has been on many news shows recently discussing North Korea. He was recently appointed to a board on electric vehicles. He has much knowledge about these policy issues."

Richardson has had a 20 year career in public service. He served as U.S. Secretary of Energy under President Bill Clinton, New Mexico congressman, ambassador to the United Nations and governor of New Mexico for two terms.

Lisa Dicker, a Baker Ambassador who helped organize the event, agrees with Dahlin-Brown about the progress Richardson has achieved in the areas of clean and efficient energy.

"Gov. Richardson has had extensive experience in public policy relating to environmental and energy issues," Dicker said. "He has had great success in implementing polices that reduce energy consumption as well as move toward renewable sources. He will be able to provide discussion about his firsthand experiences as well as challenges that the field will face in the future."

Dicker, a junior in political science, said that students should attend the lecture because environmental and energy issues impact everyone.

"These issues are especially important to us because of our proximity to coal sources," Dicker said. "Students at UT are directly influenced by these policies and the lecture will be a great opportunity to learn more about them."

When UT gained state approval in March to move forward with its plan to drill oil and gas wells on university land in Morgan and Scott counties for hydraulic fracturing, the decision was met with controversy and protests.

In 2012, Richardson endorsed a different fracking plan in 2012 from Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York. Richardson emphasized his support for natural gas as a resource for the future.

"If there is going to be fracking, it's got to be done right," Richardson said in his statement of endorsement.

For Richardson, this involves full disclosure and strong regulation.

"Fracking is doable if there's full disclosure of all chemicals used," Richardson said in an interview with the New York Post. "Secondly, science dictates the policy rather than politics. Third, there's collaboration between environmental groups and the natural gas industry."