During an interview on Wednesday, McCabe offered no clear explanation for handling the Dal-Tex permit differently.
In late October, Arch Coal had threatened to lay off up to all 400 of the mine's workers if the EPA did not permit the mine expansion.
Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Robert C. Byrd and Reps. Alan Mollohan, Nick Rahall and Bob Wise, all D-W.Va., wrote a joint letter urging EPA to issue the permit and avoid the layoffs. In a news release last week, McCabe thanked Byrd, Rahall and Wise for their input on the lawsuit settlement.
Todd said Arch Coal hopes that it can avoid further layoffs at Dal-Tex.
"If there are no further administrative delays and no litigation delays, we should be able to avoid any more layoffs," he said.
But Cindy Rank, mining chairwoman of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, said her group will probably challenge the Dal-Tex expansion in court, especially since EPA exempted it from the new permitting requirements.
"The very idea that the worst permit to come out in a long time is exempted from this is unacceptable," Rank said. "We're certainly going to exercise all of our options in opposing that permit."
Dick Kimbler, president of United Mine Workers Local 2935 at Dal-Tex, said Wednesday's layoffs were unexpected.
"We really didn't look for a layoff because they had a permit," Kimbler said. "There laid off 13, and there was no way we could prevent it.
"It was up to the company," he said. "There was nothing we could do about it."