GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — Luca Technologies Inc. has laid off nine Gillette-based employees and the company has temporarily shut down its coal-bed methane wells in the Powder River Basin.

The layoffs follow the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's decision to deny Luca's application to use bacteria to produce methane from the northeast Wyoming coal beds.

Luca is based in Golden, Colo.

CEO Brian Cree tells the Associated Press that a handful of Luca employees remain in Gillette.

Cree says the company wants to preserve its assets in the Gillette area.

Luca Technologies Inc. wants to use a process called methane farming in which water and chemicals are injected into a coal seam, activating microbes that live in the coal. The microbes eat the coal and produce methane.