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Chinese firm sues over wind farm near base

Oct. 2, 2012 - 01:39PM   |   Last Updated: Oct. 2, 2012 - 01:39PM  |  
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A company owned by Chinese citizens has added President Barack Obama as a defendant in a lawsuit alleging the U.S. government exceeded its authority in blocking the firm's planned wind farm projects in Oregon near a Navy base.

In an amended complaint filed late Monday, Ralls Corp. said Obama "acted in an unlawful and unauthorized manner" in citing national security grounds to order it to halt construction of four wind farm projects near the Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility in Boardman, Ore. The U.S. military has acknowledged using the base to test unmanned drones and electronic warfare aircraft.

In its complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington, Ralls said Obama provided no evidence of security risks in his use of a national defense law ordering the firm to halt its projects and divest the four wind farms. Last month, the firm sued Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and a multi-agency national security panel, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, in a lawsuit alleging that the U.S. government had exceeded its legal authority in ordering a halt to the wind farm projects.

"The President acted in an unlawful and unauthorized manner," Ralls' lawyers said in its new 39-page complaint. The firm contends Obama took action against Ralls without detailing any national security threat and without giving the firm an opportunity to respond to any evidence of a threat.

A Treasury official said Tuesday that the government had confidence in its authority and would counter Ralls' complaint. "We believe the lawsuit has no merit, and we intend to defend the case vigorously," said Treasury spokeswoman Natalie Wyeth Earnest.

Obama's move last week to block Ralls' wind farm projects and order their divestment followed CFIUS' determination that there was no way to address national security risks posed by Ralls' purchase of the Oregon sites. It was the first time in 22 years that a U.S. president blocked such a foreign business deal. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush scuttled the sale of Mamco Manufacturing to a Chinese agency.

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