The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear an industry appeal of a 1997 U.S. Forest Service decision to ban oil and gas exploration on Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front, a 1.8 million-acre swath of land where the plains meet the Rocky Mountains. The area, which is home to grizzlies, wolves, and bighorn sheep, also contains an estimated 2.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, as well as possible oil deposits. The Independent Petroleum Association of America and industry compadres went to court to gain access to the gas and oil, arguing that the ban was illegal. But two lower courts disagreed and kept the ban in place — and the Supreme Court saw no reason to overturn those decisions.

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