"The report said OSM has found West Virginia's permits have been legally issued," Miano said. "The report did not find any environmental problem associated with West Virginia permits. These are findings we welcome and find heartening.
"Our primary aim remains the protection of the state's environment," Miano added. "This report will assist the DEP in providing a stable regulatory climate."
The OSM report found that the DEP has inconsistently applied the federal law's "approximate original contour" reclamation variance and granted mountaintop-removal permits that don't contain required postmining land-development plans.
Asked about Miano's press release, Klein said, "Our report does not match up with that statement. If they have some disagreements with our report, I'm not aware they have expressed that to us."
Miano conceded that the report "finds in part that some of our approved program differs from" federal law. But, he said, "these differences themselves were approved by OSM in the past."
Byrd recently joined with other members of West Virginia's congressional delegation to resolve permit problems with mountaintop removal so Arch Coal Inc. can avoid laying off 400 workers at its Dal-Tex mine later this month.
"I would not attempt to suggest any course of action that OSM should prescribe with regard to mountaintop removal," Byrd said Tuesday.
"But this report moves us no closer to addressing the environmental concerns associated with the practice," Byrd said. "It also does nothing to end the uncertainty with which mining families who face layoffs are having to live."
Rahall took specific issue with OSM's refusal to come to grips with clarifying how the approximate original contour requirement applies to mountaintop-removal mines.
"Today, the southern coalfields are being held hostage to nameless, faceless bureaucrats who so far have been unable to resolve even the most rudimentary issues in the dispute involving mountaintop-removal mining," Rahall said.
Rahall also took aim at the Interior Department, of which OSM is a part. Interior Solicitor John Leshy had been asked by Rahall to make sure the report was handled properly. Leshy's staff rewrote most of the report, which was toned down from an internal draft completed in August.
The OSM report can be obtained on the agency's Internet site at http://www.osmre.gov/mountaintop.htm, or through the OSM Charleston field office at (304) 347-7158.