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The U.S. Supreme Court has delivered a commodity that is hard to come by in coal country: hope.

Hope that by blocking a new federal rule cutting power-plant emissions, the court has turned the tide after years of regulations and declining production. Hope that the jobs that once brought good wages to people who desperately needed them will come back.

However, these hopes have been tempered by another, grimmer thought — that this development might be too little, too late. That it's false hope.

For the long-suffering communities that depend on coal, last week's Supreme Court ruling was seen as a rare victory. The justices ruled 5-4 Tuesday to freeze the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to reduce the nation's carbon-dioxide emissions 32 percent by 2030 while legal challenges against the regulations are pending.

Those regulations, a key component of President Barack Obama's plan to fight climate change, focus on cutting pollution from coal-fired power plants and are viewed as a possible knockout blow to a staggering industry. The high court's surprising decision to issue a stay even before the Court of Appeals heard the case was seen by many as an indication it was hostile to the regulations.


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