The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is not required to estimate the number of mining job losses that may be caused by air pollution regulations, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.
Despite the decision, the agency said that under President Donald Trump it would consider the impact of its policies on jobs.
"President Trump's EPA will take the economic and job impacts of its proposed regulations into account ... regardless of the outcome of this particular case," EPA spokeswoman Amy Graham said in a statement.
Trump has repeatedly called for a resurgence of coal, which has been in a steep decline over the last several years. Last month, he removed the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, which seeks to deal globally with carbon emissions. He declared in a speech Thursday that his administration had "ended the war on coal."
The ruling from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reverses a West Virginia judge's decision that sided with coal companies. Ohio-based Murray Energy and other companies argued the EPA should have to report on potential job losses caused by its policies. The EPA under the Obama administration had appealed that ruling.
Murray Energy CEO Bob Murray has been critical of Obama administration environmental policies, saying they led to massive job losses in the coal industry because power plants moved away from burning coal to generate electricity.
A Murray Energy spokesman says the company plans to appeal.
The appeals court ruled that the EPA "gets to decide how to collect a broad set of employment impact data, how to judge and examine this extensive data, and how to manage these tasks on an ongoing basis." It said the courts are "ill-equipped to supervise" that process.
It also ruled that the lower court lacked jurisdiction in the case and ordered the suit dismissed.
U.S. District Judge John Preston Bailey ruled in January that the EPA was required by law to analyze the economic impact on a continuing basis when enforcing the Clean Air Act. The judge ordered the EPA to identify facilities harmed by the regulations during the Obama presidency by July 1.
The EPA had argued that analyzing job loss wouldn't change global energy trends.