EPA's new carbon rules hurt coal, could accelerate shift to natural gas

|By:, SA News Editor

Both critics and supporters of the new EPA draft regulations on CO2 emissions agree on one thing: This will be the final blow to many proposed coal plants.

The truth is, U.S. coal generation already was in decline not because of climate regulations, but because of good ol' free-market capitalism; the boom in natural gas production has dramatically increased supplies, sent prices plummeting and prompted a shift away from coal.

Among potential long-term winners: U.S. nat gas drillers such as CHK and XOM, drilling services firms such as HAL and BHI, pipeline companies such as SE and KMI, makers of gas-fired turbines such as GE and SI, power generators such as NRG and CPN if electricity prices rise.

Likely losers: Coal appears headed for a decline, and companies with large Appalachian operations such as JRCC and ANR could suffer most as more coal comes from cheaper-to-access deposits in the Illinois Basin and Wyoming; big industrial companies, which have used low U.S. power prices as a competitive advantage, are concerned.

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