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Coal stocks rally on pollution ruling

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of coal companies got a boost Tuesday after a federal appeals court overturned a regulation clamping down on power plant pollution that contributes to unhealthy air in neighboring states.

In a 2-1 decision, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the Environmental Protection Agency's cross-state air pollution rule exceeded the agency's statutory authority. The court faulted the EPA for imposing "massive emissions reduction requirements" on upwind states without regard to limits imposed by law.

In adopting the regulation a year ago, the EPA sought to reduce downwind pollution from power plants in more than two-dozen states. The rule was scheduled to go into effect in January, but several large power companies and some states sued to stop it. The appeals court agreed last December to suspend the rule pending its review.

Shares in coal producers have been under pressure as low prices for natural gas and the prospect of more stringent environmental regulation has led many power producers away from coal-fired plants. Tuesday's ruling appeared to give at least a temporary boost to the prospects of coal-fired plants and their suppliers.

Here's how some coal companies ended Tuesday trading:

— Peabody Energy Corp., up 85 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $23.79. The shares still are down about 45 percent in the last year.

— Alpha Natural Resources Inc., up 40 cents, or 6 percent, to $6.90. The shares are down 76 percent in the last year.

— James River Coal Co., up 15 cents, or 5.8 percent, to $2.72. The shares are down 74 percent in the last year.

— Consol Energy Inc., up 39 cents, or 1 percent, to $33.45. The shares are down about 20 percent in the past year.