The 1977 federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act requires all significant changes in the way states regulate mining to be approved by OSM before they take effect.
DEP officials, though, say that because the mitigation bill was added to the state Water Pollution Control Act, and not to the state strip mine law, it does not require OSM approval.
Allen Klein, regional OSM chief in Pittsburgh, said his agency is still mulling over various strategies for addressing the mining "mitigation bill." A team of OSM officials in Charleston, Pittsburgh and Washington are reviewing the matter to determine if OSM believes the bill does require federal approval.
A draft letter to the state inquiring about the matter has also been written, but is also still being reviewed in the OSM Pittsburgh office.
Klein said Friday he doesn't know when OSM will act.
"I've got an awful lot going on," Klein said. "All I can say is it's on the near horizon.
"We are not looking for a loophole to stay out of this," Klein added.
"But I can't tell you today where we will come down on that." To contact staff writer Ken Ward Jr., call 348-1702.