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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."

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.