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Ray Boren

Friends of Great Salt Lake are claiming a "temporary victory" in their efforts to protect the lake's famed artwork, called "Spiral Jetty."

The group said in a press release Thursday that state regulators returned a permit application to Pearl Exploration and Production Ltd. on the grounds the company "failed to provide adequate responses to detailed questions regarding their proposal."

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Pearl plans to drill for oil about five miles from late artist Robert Smithson's 1,500-foot-long coil of basalt rock. Pearl can still resubmit its application for that project, which drew 3,000 e-mails and almost 200 phone calls, mostly in opposition, to the Governor's Public Lands Policy Coordination Office during a public comment period.

Critics claim drilling too close to the jetty will ruin the area's "viewshed" and pollute the water. Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. visited the jetty last April, but a spokesman said the governor's main interest is in the long-term vision for the lake and its habitat.