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Environmentalists to appeal ANF drilling ruling

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ERIE, Pa. (AP) — The Sierra Club and the Allegheny Defense Project have filed notice that they're appealing a federal judge's September ruling that says the U.S. Forest Service can't regulate gas or oil drilling or other efforts to access mineral rights in the Allegheny National Forest.

U.S. District Judge Sean McLaughlin's upheld an earlier decision that lifted a de facto ban on drilling in the northwestern Pennsylvania forest.

The judge found that the Forest Service had no more right than any other surface land owner to deny access to underground mineral rights owned by others.

The Forest Service owns the surface of the 513,000-acre forest, but only 7 percent of the mineral rights.

The environmentalists say the ruling ignores the reason the forest was established, which is to conserve land and water in the upper Allegheny River watershed.

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