Jim Urquhart,File, Associated Press
In this Monday Feb. 28, 2011 file photo environmental activist Tim DeChristopher leaves the Frank E. Moss Federal Courthouse in Salt Lake City.

DENVER — The Denver federal appeals court is considering whether the Obama administration gave energy companies enough notice that it was scrapping Bush-era energy leases near national parks in Utah.

Arguments on Thursday focused on whether Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's announcement of the decision in the opening weeks of the new administration should count as notice.

The issue is important because energy companies had 90 days to appeal, and if the clock started ticking then, the energy companies filed too late.

A judge earlier threw out their challenge on those grounds but also said Salazar overstepped his authority in canceling the leases.

The auction came in the last month of George W. Bush's term. An environmental activist joined in the bidding and was later convicted for not paying the $1.7 million tab.