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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert given $10K by Alton Coal Development

SALT LAKE CITY (Deseret News) — On the same day Gov. Gary Herbert sat down with a coal company that complained regulators were taking too long to issue a strip-mining permit, his campaign aides were cashing a $10,000 check from the company.

The pleas from Alton Coal Development LLC did not go unanswered. According to a memo obtained by The Associated Press, state regulators at the meeting agreed to fast-track a decision approving the mine near Panguitch, despite opposition from residents.

Herbert's office said Wednesday he never ordered regulators to give their approval and didn't know about the company's donation.

The decision has some residents of the small tourist town about 200 miles south of Salt Lake City concerned, with one business owner characterizing the payment as a blatant effort by the coal developer to influence the Herbert administration.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out," said Bobbi Bryant, owner of the gift and coffee shop Bronco Bobbi's, who said she was opposed to the strip mine because the operation would send coal trucks as often as 300 times a day through Panguitch, which is near Bryce Canyon National Park.

"There's a lot more people down here against it than officials want you to know," she said.

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