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Here is something for Utah residents and other interested parties to mull over. In a front-page story, The Washington Times has asserted that environmental groups demanding 1.7 million acres of Utah land be locked up to kill the mining of a coal deposit were not the only beneficiaries of a new national monument created by President Clinton.

According to the Associated Press story, the ban on mining of Utah's coal would benefit the "multibillion-dollar Lippo Group, a Jakarta based Lippo Corporation with business interests related to coal."Utah and Indonesia coal are cost-competitive and the cleanest in the world. Due to Clinton's decision, Indonesian coal will have the lion's share of the international market. It is interesting to note that not only is Indonesia the home of Lippo but also Mochtar Riady, one of Clinton's richest and most powerful international backers.

The White House has denied any connection, but several articles in past weeks have pointed out that "with a stroke of his pen, President Clinton wiped out the only significant competition to Indonesian coal interests in the world market."

Legal action is being taken charging that Clinton lacks statutory authority under the Antiquities Act of 1890 to set aside such a vast area since the act is limited to small areas of historic and scientific interest.

The fate of as much as $1.1 billion belonging to Utah's schools will be decided as the argument is made in the courts that the authority Clinton used to take such action was never conveyed by Congress.

Valerie Mason