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Company wants to start fracking downstate

TRAVERSE CITY, MI (AP)--   A proposal to draw natural gas from as many as 500 wells in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula by using hydraulic fracturing is attracting attention from environmentalists. 

The Detroit News reports Monday that Calgary, Alberta-based Encana Corp. proposed the wells.

Spokesman Doug Hock says the company is "in the early stages" of new drilling in Michigan.

Encana is focusing on Michigan's Antrim and Collingwood shale formations, which run from the tip of the Lower Peninsula to the middle of the state. The company's mineral rights are mostly in Cheboygan, Emmet, Kalkaska and Missaukee counties.

Hydraulic fracturing, widely known as "fracking," involves pumping water laced with chemicals and sand at high pressure into wells. State regulators and industry representatives say the process is environmentally sound, but critics say it can pollute.

Nicole was born near Detroit but has lived in the U.P. most of her life. She graduated from Marquette Senior High School and attended Michigan State and Northern Michigan Universities, graduating from NMU in 1993 with a degree in English.