Executives at Ralls Corp., a Delaware-based company founded by Chinese nationals Duan Dawei and Wu Jialiang, say they disagree with President Barack Obama's recent decision to prohibit them from building four 10-MW wind farms near Boardman, Ore.
"Ralls continues to show its profound faith in transparency and due process and seeks only fair treatment under the law and the Constitution," says Tim Xia, an Atlanta-based attorney representing Ralls, which has sued the White House. Obama is doing nothing more than limiting Oregon's ability to create jobs, Xia adds.
Citing national security concerns, Obama late last month invoked a seldom-used law to halt Ralls from erecting wind farms within restricted air space because of the project's proximity to a U.S. naval weapons-systems training facility. In its suit, Ralls calls the decision "unlawful" and "unconstitutional" and denies a security threat exists.
The president, under Section 721 of the Defense Production Act of 1950, on Sept. 28 ordered that Ralls divest itself of any investment in the project, as recommended by the Committee on Foreign Investment and the U.S. Dept. of Treasury. Other turbines operate in the area.
Natalie Wyeth Earnest, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Treasury Dept., says the Ralls lawsuit "has no merit" and that "we intend to defend the case vigorously."
Dawei and Jialiang, also executives at China-based Sany Heavy Industry Co. Ltd., purchased a small Oregon company in 2012. Their business plan was for a subsidiary, Sany Electric, to construct and operate wind farms in the region. Tim Frank, chairman of Sany America Inc., says the situation with Ralls "isn't expected to have any impact" on Sany America's newly built construction equipment plant in Peachtree City, Ga.
The Obama order, which seeks to separate Ralls from all project construction plans, requires the firm to remove 12 concrete foundations within 14 days. The Obama order also forces the company to sell off its entire ownership stake in the project to a government-approved buyer within 90 days.