A Chinese-owned company whose planned wind farms in north-central Oregon were blocked by the Obama administration last year argued in federal court Thursday that the government violated the Constitution by depriving it of its property without due legal process.
The argument by lawyers for the Ralls Corp. is part of a lawsuit brought by Ralls against the government after the President Barack Obama ordered a halt to Ralls’ plan to buy and develop four wind farms near Boardman on national security grounds. The planned wind farms would have stood near airspace devoted to military aviation training.
The Obama administration has never specified just how the planned wind farms threaten national security, Ralls’ lawyers argued. Nor was Ralls given any “meaningful opportunity” to respond to the government’s assertion.
Lawyers for the government have asked the judge in the federal court for the District of Columbia to dismiss Ralls’ lawsuit. In Thursday’s hearing, Ralls argued that the lawsuit should continue.
Ralls’ lawsuit names the Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, Obama and former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Ralls Corp. is privately owned by two Chinese executives with China’s Sany Group. In its filings, the company has said it sought to develop U.S. wind farm projects that would use Sany-built turbines.
In the two-stage transaction, it acquired the four Oregon projects in February last year for $6 million. It says it started building turbines for one of the Oregon projects last April.
After the Committee on Foreign Investment started investigating the transaction last summer, Obama issued an order that blocked Ralls from proceeding. The president’s order said that Ralls, Sany and the two Chinese nationals, Dawei Duan and Jialiang Wu, “might take action that threatens to impair the national security of the United States.”
The president’s objection concerned the proximity of the project to the Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility at Boardman. Navy pilots use the 490 square miles of protected airspace to practice air combat maneuvers and bombing runs. Oregon National Guard troops also fly unmanned aerial vehicles and helicopters at the range, as well as fixed-wing aircraft.
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