CRAWFORDSVILLE — Two racks hold up blue jackets with workers’ names embroidered on them at the W2 fuel plant in Crawfordsville. They were one of the first things democratic presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar noticed when she toured the now closed plant on Friday.
W2 President and CEO Roy Strom lead a tour of the facility for the Minnesota senator and former Iowa Lt. Gov. Patty Judge. Strom said the Crawfordsville plant was purchased in 2011 and began producing biodiesel in 2016. Strom said the plant was closed just last month, but the uniforms remain as they are hopeful they may be able to reopen the facility and bring the workers back.
Recently, waivers were handed out to some oil refiners which caught severe criticism from many for the benefit it brought to big oil companies. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has since been working to renegotiate with President Donald Trump on the waivers.
Klobuchar called the actions “a trick without the treat,” saying although it sounds promising, it will not bring the numbers back to where they were.
Judge agreed, saying with the new restrictions it has become a case of “big oil versus farmers” and farmers voices need to be heard if this problem is going to be solved.
“There’s a couple of things you need to be successful in agriculture whether you’re in Iowa or in Minnesota. The first thing is you hope and pray you’re going to have a decent year as far as the weather,” she said. “But the other thing that we really have to have is some sort of stability (and) some sort of understanding of what’s going to happen to our markets. For this last year this has been a guessing game that no one has the answer to.”
Judge referred to the closure of the plant as the result of quick decisions and said in order for change to come, someone who understands the problem needs to be in office.
“I’ll just say it. We have to have a new president. We have to have someone we can work with, someone who understands our industry and the importance of coming to a plant like this and people making a living. We talk a lot about good jobs for people in rural America and here’s an opportunity to help them raise their families but unfortunately because of policies in the administration, it’s shut down,” she said.
Klobuchar agreed, saying farmers need predictability and someone they can trust.
“Actions speak louder than tweets,” she said.
Klobuchar went on to say she has negotiated three farm bills and has been a leader in supporting biofuels since before the election and bring back jobs to rural America will continue to be her goal moving forward.
“I’m going to forever remember those coats with the names Matt and Derek and Salvador. Those are people that are waiting to come back and they’re keeping their coats there because the hope is we’re going to see better days and some smarter policies,” she said.