Lovett also said his clients don't want to destroy the coal industry, but only want regulatory agencies to follow the law when they issue mining permits.
"We're not attempting to stop the administrative process," Lovett said. "We're merely asking that no more illegal permits be issued."
Lovett said that the DEP action forces his clients to file an appeal of the mining permit when they don't have complete information about what the mine will look like. The mining plan may have to change for EPA to lift its objection, Lovett said.
Wolfe and lawyers for DEP agreed they would start a 30-day clock for filing an appeal after the legal issues surround the permit are resolved.
Haden has scheduled a full hearing on the larger lawsuit for Dec. 10.
Wolfe said that Lovett could not yet show his clients would be harmed by the permit issuance because the DEP approval alone doesn't allow mining to start.
"There is not going to be any mining activity," Wolfe said. "There is not going to be any disturbance in these areas ... most likely for many, many months."
Wolfe also made a point of telling Haden that, if the permit was not approved, "there is a significant likelihood that a number of people are going to lose their jobs."
Arch Coal announced on Oct. 30 that, if the mine doesn't receive all its permits, up to 400 coal miners could be laid off starting on New Year's Eve.
Hunter, a lawyer for the DEP Office of Mining and Reclamation, said state officials want guidance from the judicial system about in what order they should issue the various permits strip mines need.
"There is a need for determining who regulates what in this particular area," Hunter said. "We are asking the court to answer that.
"There have been a lot of questions asked historic questions," Hunter said. "There is to much uncertainty and a need for guidance."
Still, Hunter argued that DEP had done nothing wrong in issuing the Pigeonroost Branch permit.
"There has been no evidence that the exercise of DEP's permitting discretion was tainted in any way," Hunter said. "It was done according to the established practice and procedures."