BEALLSVILLE, Ohio - The Beallsville-area coal mine Mitt Romney will visit today belongs to a company whose owner says it is closing one mine and laying off workers at another as a result of President Barack Obama's "war on coal."
More than 2,500 people are expected to attend a rally in support of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee at the Century Mine, about four miles north of Beallsville. Beallsville is in Monroe County, while the mine is just over the county line in Belmont County. The mine is owned by Murray Energy Corp., whose CEO, Robert Murray, plans to bus workers and their families to the event Romney will speak to the workers about his "contrasting approach" to energy compared to Obama, said Chris Maloney, spokesman for Romney's Ohio campaign.
The event is not open to the public.
The 12:30 p.m. stop is one of three Romney is scheduled to make in southeast Ohio today. After visiting the mine, Romney will head to Tom's Ice Cream Bowl in Zanesville and hold an evening rally in Chillicothe.
Media reports earlier in the year indicated the Century Mine employed about 700 people, with a potential 300 jobs to be added. A message to the company's media representative was not returned Monday.
Murray Energy announced at the end of July the closure of the Red Bird West coal mine near Brilliant, transferring 32 employees to other jobs and eliminating the other 24 left there from a peak of 239. In a release, the company blamed Obama and his "appointees and followers."
"The mine was intended to last for at least 10 years," Stanley T. Piasecki, general manager and superintendent for OhioAmerican Energy, which is owned by Murray. "Now we have been forced by our own country's president and his followers and supporters to permanently close the operation."
Murray recently announced plans to cut 29 jobs at Powhatan No. 6 Mine, also in Belmont County.
In published reports, Robert Murray has criticized the Obama administration's policies related to coal, including a move to place limits on heat-trapping pollution from new electricity plants, which he said would make it difficult to build coal-fired plants.
An Obama spokeswoman said Monday that Romney's record isn't as pro-coal as his campaign wants people to believe.
"No matter what Romney says, the truth is, while he now claims he supports coal, he has been a longtime critic of coal-fired power plants. As governor of Massachusetts, he declared that coal-fired power plants kill people and said he 'will not protect jobs that kill people,'" said Laura Allen, regional press secretary for Obama's campaign in Ohio. "The fact is that under President Obama, coal jobs are at a 15-year high."
Romney won't be the only Republican candidate in the region today, with state Rep. Andy Thompson of Marietta expected to attend the Beallsville event. Congressman Bill Johnson, a fellow Marietta resident, will attend the Zanesville event.
"I am encouraged to hear that Gov. Romney will be making a stop in Belmont County to meet with our coal miners and show support for an industry that is so vital to Ohio," Johnson said in an emailed statement Monday. "We need a president who is willing to unleash the power of free enterprise to grow the economy and build a stronger America."