Frank and Kerrie Moe have been trying for two years to get people in Denver to listen to their warnings about how regulation of the energy industry is hurting Craig — their northwest Colorado hometown and the site of one of the largest coal-fueled power plants in the country.
When that didn't work, the Craig hotel owners sent a video they were featured in to presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, along with an invitation to come for a visit.
"There needs to be regulation of the oil and gas industry, but it's being over-regulated," Frank Moe said Monday. "We need Mitt Romney's help."
On Thursday, the Moes got a phone call from the Romney campaign, letting them know the former Massachusetts governor was taking them up on their offer.
Romney is to appear today at 9 a.m. in Craig, where he is expected to talk about what he considers to be the impact that Obama administration EPA regulations have had on energy production, and the trickle-down effect on American communities and small businesses such as the Moes' Best Western Deer Park Inn and Suites.
The U.S. gets about 40 percent of its electricity from coal, and coal-fired energy production is an issue that fact is of particular importance to voters in other key states that are home to several coal-fired power plants, such as Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Coal has become an increasingly popular campaign issue among Republicans in recent weeks, particularly as gas prices have fallen, making Obama's oil and gas policies a less-potent area of attack.
The Obama campaign counters that the president's "all of the above" energy approach includes clean coal, as well as wind, solar, natural gas and other sources renewable energy sources. They also note the president made one of the most significant investments in development of clean coal technologies with $3.4 billion in stimulus funding.
Craig — with a population of about 10,000 — is in an overwhelmingly Republican area, and more than four hours from the more heavily populated suburban Denver areas expected to sway the Nov. 6 election. It's received more attention in recent months, thanks to "The Perfect Storm Over Craig, Colorado," the video featuring the Moes that was produced by a coalition of conservative organizations .
The video was produced by Energy for America, a joint initiative of the conservative organizations Americans for Prosperity, the American Energy Alliance and the Institute for Energy Research — groups that have been spending millions on anti-Obama television ads across the country, including in Colorado.In it, the Moes discuss how decreased production at the coal plant has hurt their business, forcing them to lay off two longtime employees — the first cuts they were forced to do in 15 years.
While the policies mentioned in the video include two state laws — issues that aren't decided by the president no matter who's in office — Frank Moe said he believes a Romney administration could have some influence.
"I think he's got the ability to lay out the entire picture," he said.
Romney is scheduled to speak around 9 a.m. today in Alice Pleasant Park. Gates open at 7:30 a.m.
Locals believe it's the first time a presidential candidate has made a stop in Craig — and the town is excited, Moe said. "It's an honor."
The Craig visit will be Romney's lone Colorado stop before he heads to Las Vegas, where he will speak at a local business before an evening fundraiser with billionaire Donald Trump and former Speaker of the House and one-time GOP primary rival Newt Gingrich.
Romney was last in Colorado May 9, when he spoke about energy at a Fort Lupton drill site.
Sara Burnett: 303-954-1661 or firstname.lastname@example.org