Officials are planning an Oct. 24 auction of state-owned oil and gas lease rights.
MLive.com reports (http://bit.ly/PnZZhK ) the auction was formally approved Thursday during a meeting of the state's Natural Resources Commission.
The auction affects a total of roughly 196,000 acres of state land in Allegan, Arenac, Barry, Bay, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Ionia, Iosco, Kalkaska, Kent, Lake, Manistee, Midland, Montmorency, Oakland, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Ottawa, Presque Isle, Saginaw, Tuscola and Wexford counties.
The meeting drew a crowd, including some who worry that the plan will open the door to more oil and gas exploration using hydraulic fracturing, known as "fracking."
The state Department of Natural Resources says the lease rights alone don't give permission to extract oil or gas. That needs an OK from the state Department of Environmental Quality.