The state of North Dakota is supporting arguments by four western counties that they have the right to build roads along section lines.
A section line marks off a square mile of land. Section line roads could be used for oil companies to get to drilling locations.
Billings, Golden Valley, McKenzie and Slope counties are suing the federal government, claiming they have the right to build roads along section lines. Now the state has made similar claims in its own federal lawsuit.
Environmentalists worry the lawsuits could allow more oil drilling in the Little Missouri grasslands in western North Dakota.
The U.S. Forest Service manages the grasslands. The Forum newspaper reports (http://bit.ly/Q5fzB5 ) the Forest Service has refused to give some mineral rights holders permission to build access roads for drilling.