More than 1,300 oil and gas workers in Utah, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming may now qualify for retroactive trade adjustment assistance benefits if they were laid off after Sept. 30, 1985, according to Labor Secretary Ann McLaughlin.

Any workers laid off from the exploration or drilling companies after that date must submit a petition for certification of eligibility by Nov. 18."I'm pleased we're now able to provide assistance to these workers," McLaughlin said. "They weren't eligible before because they provided a service and didn't produce a product, but the law now provides benefits for these workers because they have been affected by import competition," she said.

Five petitions, affecting 189 workers, was previously deinied in Utah a department press release stated.

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In the Rocky Mountain Region, about 123 oil and gas firms previously denied benefits may re-apply for trade adjustment assistance.

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