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But Mr. Quinn and others dispute that “path forward,” which relies on carbon-capture technology that would trap emissions before they are released into the air. Such technology exists, but it’s not commercially available nor close to being financially feasible.

“We want this to be successful. This is probably the transformational technology if people are serious about reducing greenhouse gases but it needs more time,” Mr. Quinn said.

With regulations outpacing technological growth, coal proponents from across the country are bracing for the worst.

“Our sense here is it would be every bit as bad as people think it will be. The way I put it, this is the war on America’s economy because this will ripple through the entire U.S. economy in a huge way,” said John Kinkaid, a commissioner in Moffat County, Colo., which has two major coal mines within its borders and another just across the county line.

“In Moffat County, our real economic asset is our energy. If we lose those jobs, we really will become a ghost town,” he added.

The EPA’s power plant limits, analysts say, will be unaffected by a key Supreme Court decision expected next year.

The high court this month announced that it would review a lower-court ruling that the EPA was forced by law to tackle greenhouse gas emissions from power plants after implementing similar restrictions on automobiles.

The agency contended that tackling automobile emissions triggered a portion of the Clean Air Act that made them also address power plants.

Specialists say the specific carbon rules — by far the most far-reaching and potentially harmful regulation aimed at the coal industry — likely will not be affected by the court’s decision.