A federal appeals court in Denver was to hear arguments Thursday on the Obama administration's decision to cancel Bush-era oil and gas leases near national parks in Utah, the auction for which prompted an environmental activist to drive up prices with his bidding in an act of civil disobedience.
The case before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals involves leases near Arches and Canyonlands national parks and Dinosaur National Monument that were auctioned off in the final month of the President George W. Bush's administration. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar later canceled the leases and energy companies challenged his decision in court.
Thursday's hearing came after a federal judge ruled in September 2010 that a lawsuit brought by energy producers challenging the cancellation of the 77 oil and gas drilling leases was filed too late. U.S. District Judge Dee Benson ruled the companies failed to file their lawsuit within 90 days of Salazar's February 2009 decision.