Haden said he would set aside time the following week as well. A visit to the mine site, tour of an active mine, and a flyover of mountaintop removal sites will be scheduled after all the testimony is heard, the judge said.
During Wednesday's hearing, Hobet Mining lawyer Roger Wolfe opposed extension of the temporary restraining order, arguing that environmental group lawyers had already taken too long presenting their case.
Steven Rusak, a lawyer for the Corps of Engineers, also objected to the extension. Russ Hunter, a lawyer for the state Division of Environmental Protection, said DEP would not oppose an extension.
At the request of Warren Upton, a lawyer for coal industry trade groups, Haden clarified that the temporary restraining order applies only to the Hobet permit, not to other coal companies.
Earlier Wednesday, DEP assistant mining chief Lewis Halstead testified that changes in elevation from lopping off mountaintops should be considered in deciding whether mountaintop removal mines comply with the federal approximate original contour, or AOC, standards.
"Elevation would probably be part of it - would be a consideration - but not solely and maybe not even primarily," Halstead said.
Halstead said that if former DEP Director David C. Callaghan had not done away with the state's 50-foot elevation change rule, mountaintop removal mines would have to receive AOC variances and propose post-mining development.