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Court: Wind-farm ban near Ore. base stands

Feb. 22, 2013 - 06:48PM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 22, 2013 - 06:48PM  |  
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WASHINGTON — A federal judge says she can't overturn President Barack Obama's decision to revoke a Chinese company's purchase of four wind farm projects in the vicinity of a U.S. naval facility's restricted airspace.

However, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the Ralls Corporation has a right to a hearing over whether the White House should be forced to explain its decision.

In his September decision, Obama ordered Ralls Corporation, a company owned by Chinese nationals, to divest its interest in the wind farms it purchased earlier this year in Oregon. The wind farm sites are all in the vicinity of restricted air space near the Naval Weapons Systems Training Facility Boardman. The administration cites unspecified national security risks as the reason for blocking the transaction.

Ralls sued. Its CEO, Wu Jialiang, said in Beijing in October that his company would "never do anything that threatens U.S. national security."

Jackson said the federal courts don't have the power to get involved in the president's decision-making on this issue.

The law "is not the least bit ambiguous about the role of the courts: 'The actions of the president ... and the findings of the president ... shall not be subject to judicial review,'" she said.

However, Jackson said the courts can hold hearings on whether the government deprived Ralls of its property without due process of law. Ralls argued that the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment entitles it to an opportunity to be heard and to hear the reasons for Obama's decision, she said.

"It is true that the finality provision will bar the court from hearing any attack on the president's findings," Jackson said. "But there is a difference between asking a court to decide whether one was entitled to know what the president's reasons were and asking a court to assess the sufficiency of those reasons."

Jackson said she will hear arguments on that issue later.

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