- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) - Drilling is set to begin in West Virginia in what is being billed as the first long-term field study of shale drilling for natural gas.

Northeast Natural Energy of Charleston is scheduled to drill Friday in Morgantown.

The drilling is part of the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environmental Laboratory, which was launched in 2014 by West Virginia University. Its partners in the five-year, $11 million project include Ohio State University and the U.S. Department of Energy.

WVU says scientists will study the process from beginning to end.

Since the project began, scientists have been monitoring baseline air, noise, light and water at the site. Those assessments will continue through the life cycle of the project.

A much-criticized drilling process called fracking has opened vast reserves of natural gas.

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