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Environmentalists are appealing a federal judge's ruling that allowed natural-gas drilling to continue in northeastern Wyoming's Powder River Basin.

The plaintiffs in the case say that without curbs on drilling, sage grouse in the region could be pushed to extermination. Straddling the Wyoming-Montana border, the Powder River Basin has some of the largest natural-gas reserves in the country.

In November, U.S. District Judge Alan Johnson in Cheyenne dismissed a 2004 lawsuit in which environmentalists attempted to slow drilling. Johnson's ruling is being appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, by the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, American Lands Alliance and photographer George Wuerthner.

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