The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rules on the reduction of carbon emissions could be a major step toward addressing climate change. They could also help reduce the longstanding attractiveness of power companies as dividend investments.

One way for power generators to comply with the proposed new rules is to switch from coal to natural gas, which results in less carbon pollution per unit of electricity produced. That switch has already begun because of market factors: Gas simply costs less than coal in the current market. (The Edison Electric Institute, or EEI, an industry trade group, says that coal accounted for 37.4% of fuel used by power companies to generate electricity in 2012. Natural gas was second at 30.3% of fuel used.)

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