The US Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. has struck down a key US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruling on coal pollution, on the basis that the EPA had exceeded its mandate.

The EPA had sought to reduce harmful emissions from coal burning plants, by limiting sulphur and nitrogen oxides emissions from power plants in the east of the country and Texas.

President Obama
Reuters reports that the ruling was greeted with relief by coal utilities and sparked a rally in company shares.

The decision was cheered by some Republicans, who have made the EPA and President Barack Obama‘s environmental policies a major campaign theme ahead of November elections.

Coal plant closures had been seen as inevitable as coal utilities argued that they could not meet the timeframe or bear the financial burden of installing costly new equipment.

But some analysts saw little material impact from the ruling, with dozens of coal-fired plants already slated for closure due to other EPA regulations.

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