NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Coal industry investors appeared to be realizing President Obama's rumored "war on coal" could be a lot worse.
Coal shares were moving higher in early trading as investors saw signs of hope in new federal rules on emissions standards released by the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday.
Shares of Peabody Energy (BTU), the world's largest coal producer, were up 1.2% in early trading at $16.35 after closing down 3% at $16.16 on Friday. The stock, year to date, is down from a high of $19.54 in January, but off its low of $15.47 for the year, set in March. Shares of Arch Coal (ACI) and Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) were also rising modestly.
The Obama administration is seeking the new rules under the Clean Air Act. The EPA said the rules will require a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by U.S. power plants of 25% over 2005 levels by 2020 and 30% by 2030, according to news reports. In a press release Monday, the EPA added that new restrictions will cut particle pollution, nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide by more than 25% as a co-benefit.
The rules will not take effect until next year after a public comment period and would let states make the decision about how best to achieve those cuts. States can choose to implement cap-and-trade programs, carbon taxes and other incentives to help meet the goal.
Advocates said in addition to cutting emissions and limiting the worst effects of global warming, the new rules could stimulate the economy and even lower energy bills through additional efficiency in production. Critics said the new rules would eliminate coal jobs and raise prices on electricity.