One of the permits EPA has held up would allow Arch Coal's Hobet Mining Inc. to expand its Dal-Tex mine near Blair in Logan County. The 3,100-acre permit application was filed nearly two years ago.
Rahall and Wise have both publicly called for more federal regulatory scrutiny of mountaintop removal. However, both have also said mining needs to continue. Wise in particular has said permits should be issued, even if studies of potential mining impacts aren't finished yet.
Rockefeller and Byrd had stayed out of the mountaintop removal controversy until now. Neither has responded to requests made months ago for their positions on the issue.
Little mountaintop removal goes on in Mollohan's district in Northern West Virginia.
"While we respect that the agencies charged with protecting the environment are now re-examining how their responsibilities are to be carried out, we are troubled that during this re-evaluation the livelihoods of coal miners in a disadvantaged part of the state hang in the balance," the representatives said in their letter.
"We believe that no one benefits from what is perceived as an unstable regulatory environment," the letter said.
"We know, all too well, the difficulties visited upon mining families who face the uncertainty of layoffs," the letter said. "As such, we would like to see this matter resolved expeditiously so that these families may be spared the unnecessary hardship of living in a limbo of uncertainty.
The letter added, "Moreover, the broader issue of regulatory policy concerning mountaintop removal mining cannot be allowed to twist in the wind indefinitely.
"We therefore urge you to resolve the outstanding issues in a timely fashion so that job losses may be forestalled and possible improvements may be implemented to bring about an efficient and environmentally responsive resolution to permit applications in the future," it said.