Chinese investors in Oregon wind farm project are entitled to know better why Obama administration blocked it, court rules
There may be wind in those turbines yet.
A federal appeals court Tuesday said the Obama administration must more fully explain its reasoning for blocking a Chinese-owned wind farm project in Oregon. The ruling means the Chinese investors – and the public – will get a glimpse of what led the government to conclude that the project threatened national security.
Ralls Corp., privately owned by two Chinese executives with China-based Sany Group, sought to develop U.S. windfarm projects that would use Sany turbines. Its project in north central Oregon would have been built on and near land used by the U.S. Navy as an aircraft training range.
In September 2012, Obama ordered the project stopped and told Ralls to divest itself of its Oregon assets. Ralls countered by suing President Obama, former Treasury Secretary Henry Geithner and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, charging that the administration’s actions deprived its property rights and violated the Constitution’s due process provisions.
“To this day,” Ralls said in a filing last year, “the government has never provided Ralls with any reasoning or explanation for its conclusions or actions.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals sided with Ralls Tuesday, ruling “We conclude that the Presidential Order deprived Ralls of constitutionally protected property interests without due process of law.”
In sending the case back to the federal district court in the District of Columbia, the judges said Ralls should have access to “the unclassified evidence on which the President relied and an opportunity to respond thereto.”
Tim Tingkang Xia, an attorney for Ralls, told Bloomberg News the company is “heartened that the court today upheld Ralls’ arguments in every respect.”
C.J. Voss, a Seattle partner in Stoel Rives who has been following the case but isn’t involved with either side, said “I think those who follow national security of foreign investment in the United States are surprised by this decision, because the courts usually give maximum deference to the Executive Branch in administering these regulations.”
Voss said the ruling may lead to changes in the way the Committee on Foreign Investment reviews foreign investments for national security concerns.
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