|A federal appeals court must decide if the Obama administration gave energy companies sufficient notice that it was scrapping oil and gas leases auctioned off near national parks in Utah in the closing days of the Bush presidency.
The sale near Arches and Canyonlands national parks and Dinosaur National Monument was protested by environmentalists, including Robert Redford, and prompted an act of civil disobedience by a University of Utah student who entered the bidding and drove up prices.
Energy companies are trying to win back the leases and asked the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Thursday to reconsider whether a news conference by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar soon after President Barack Obama took office counts as public notice of his final decision.
The government argues that the Feb. 4, 2009, announcement and an internal memo two days later served as notice. The energy companies claim that the new administration didn't follow typical notification procedures and that the decision wasn't final until the Bureau of Land Management carried out Salazar's decision on Feb. 12, 2009.