BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Attorney General's Office says it will defend a state law at the center of a dispute over a proposed gold mine in mountains north of Yellowstone National Park.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Saturday that state attorneys are stepping into a lawsuit over a statute preventing judges from blocking mine exploration work while state-issued permits are challenged.

A judge ruled the Montana Department of Environmental Quality's mining proposal review was flawed, but the law kept the judge from preventing the work from going forward.

The Park County Environmental Council and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition say the law violates Montana's constitution.

Lucky Minerals Inc. wants to drill exploratory wells for gold near a canyon called Emigrant Gulch.

Opponents say mining could reduce tourism and pollute the nearby Yellowstone River.

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