This week, a Cheboygan District Court Judge ruled that Chesapeake Energy will go to trial for alleged fraud.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has accused the Oklahoma-based energy company of swindling landowners in northern Michigan.
Peter Payette is with our partners at Interlochen Public Radio and he has been covering this story.
How did all of this start?
Around May of 2010, the state auctioned off the right to drill for oil and gas on public land.
"And that auction saw prices that were astronomical. The state in one day raised as much money from the sale of oil and gas rights as it had raised in its entire history," Payette says. "And that's because out-of-state companies believed that by using these newer methods of horizontal hydraulic fracturing that they could make a lot of money by drilling deep down in the ground and taking out natural gas."
These companies went out to private landowners that summer and asked to explore their properties for oil and gas. The landowners signed leases. "And those promised what is called a 'order of payment' and in many cases the landowners did not receive payment and may say they were cheated and are owed money," Payette says.