Campaigning in Craig, Colorado yesterday, Mitt Romney’s campaign claimed that no clean energy jobs exist in the state — even though the Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are more than 70,000 of them.
Romney also made another blunder: By using the town of Craig has an example of a “hurting” community in coal country, his speech was based on a fabricated story. After the speech, town residents completely contradicted Romney’s talking points in interviews with the New York Times:
The city’s finance director, Bruce Nelson, said that tax revenue had bounced back strongly since last late year. “We are holding our own,” he said.
Terry Carwile, the mayor of Craig and a retired coal miner, went further, saying that the economy was “getting better” in the town of 9,500 as oil speculation intensified. He played down the suggestion that federal regulations had wounded the local coal industry.
“The policies of the federal government really aren’t that impactful to us so far,” he said. He acknowledged that they were “a concern,” though, and that residents were ever wary of government meddling in their biggest industry.
That was not the message from Mr. Romney, who spoke to about 1,000 residents in a park near the town’s center.
Romney also ignored another inconvenient fact: Coal production and jobs are both up in Colorado.
“I’m not going to forget Craig, Colorado,” Romney said in yesterday’s speech. “I’m not going to forget communities like this across the country that are hurting right now under this president.”
However, unemployment in the county is down from 11 percent last year to 8.3 percent this year. And state-wide, coal production was up 10.4 percent in 2011 after seven years of decline. According to the Denver Post, the industry is planning four new mines.
The story is similar in West Virginia, where coal mining employment has grown by 1,500 since 2009 — a two-decade high. Coal generation may be down 19 percent nationally, but this is largely due to the low price of natural gas, not regulation.
Peabody Energy bused 148 miners to Romney’s speech and compensated the miners for their time.