All sides have been extremely closed-mouthed about the proposal, but Boyle insisted it "is going to be pretty far reaching."
"This is a unified federal approach that is pretty much hammered out among the four agencies," Boyle said last week. "It would give a much greater level of environmental scrutiny."
Negotiations on the government side are being handled by officials in Washington. Regional and local agency officials said they know little about what's being decided.
"It's so confusing, I don't think anybody knows," said Lewis Halstead, assistant chief for permitting with the DEP Office of Mining and Reclamation.
Cindy Tibbott, environmental specialist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regional office in State College, Pa., said, "That is still all up in the air as far as I know."
Sources said it was hoped that a settlement could be announced as early as today. Without a last-minute change, those plans appear to have fallen through. A settlement could be finalized later this week, early next week - or not at all.
As proposed, the settlement would resolve only the Clean Water Act allegations about valley fill permitting.
Left to be litigated would be charges that DEP has improperly permitted mountaintop removal mines that would not be returned to their approximate original contour or propose post-mining development of flattened land.