In 2008, a gas company in West Virginia dumped 75,000 gallons of fracking fluid on a quarter-acre area in the Monongahela National Forest, and a new study commissioned by the U.S. Forest Service has found that half the trees there are now dead. Fracking, or hydraulic-fracturing, is a controversial method used to drill for natural gas that involving high-pressure water and chemical additives. Given the environmental concerns over fracking and the toxicity of the fluid, it might be surprising that the dump was legal. But it was sanctioned by U.S Forest Service in an effort to measure the ecological effects of the fluid. After release, the undergrowth on the quarter-acre area died almost immediately. Two years later, 56 percent of the 150 trees on the plot were dead. Energy consultants have said that spreading the fluid over a greater area would lessen its toxic effects.
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