- Associated Press - Friday, February 28, 2014

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - State officials have given permission for a Denver-based company to drill for oil and gas along southern Montana’s Beartooth mountains near Belfry.

The Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation approved the permit for Energy Corporation of America after a public hearing Thursday.

Conservation groups opposed to energy extraction in the area had sued the state board after it initially approved the permit in December without holding a hearing. That prompted the board to reverse course and hold another vote.

Denver-based ECA has announced plans to develop dozens of wells near Roscoe and Belfry along the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone River near the Wyoming border. Brewing magnate Peter Coors is the company's board of directors

Skeptics of the company’s plans warn that thousands more wells could follow, harming water resources and air quality.