Sector Snap: Coal shares up after delayed ruling

Shares of coal miners rise after court delays new EPA air quality standard

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of major coal miners rose Tuesday in the first day of trading after a federal appeals court pushed back an EPA deadline for better air quality in 27 states.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit delayed the Environmental Protection Agency's Cross-State Pollution Rule late Friday so that it can further review the regulation. The EPA rule, which was expected to begin in January, would have required those states to significantly reduce power plant emissions, forcing many to turn away from coal-fired power.

More than a dozen electric power companies, municipal power plant operators, and six states — Texas, Nebraska, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana and Ohio — had asked for the delay. Oral arguments won't begin until April.

Even if the court upholds the EPA regulation, it's possible that the rule won't be implemented this year. That means utilities could ramp up activity at their coal-fired power plants, increasing demand for new supplies, Sterne Agee analyst Michael Dudas said.

"If there is a run on thermal coal by utilities, we believe the market may tighten, providing a fillip to thermal coal prices," Dudas said.

In afternoon trading, shares of Peabody Energy Corp. rose by $2.97, or 9 percent, to $36.08, Alpha Natural Resources rose by $1.50, or 7 percent, to $21.93, Patriot Coal Corp. rose by 62 cents, or 7.03 percent, to $9.09 and Arch Coal Inc. rose by 69 cents, or 5 percent, to $15.20.

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