Texas lawmakers blocked an effort by a Chinese billionaire to install a 15,000 acre wind farm on land he purchased in the state after a conservancy group brought attention to his plans.
The conservancy group was first concerned with the environmental impact of the wind farm, but then discovered the strong ties that Sun Guangxin had to the Chinese Communist Party, which raised concerns about how it would provide the communists a foothold on the state’s power grid.
National security concerns were also immediately raised regarding 140,000 acres that Guanxin purchased near the Laughlin Air Force Base.
In June, Republican lawmakers and state governor Gregg Abbott signed and adopted a new law, the Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act.
The bill was lauded by Abbott as “the first law of its kind,” giving legal provisions to stop “hostile nations” from gaining access to “critical infrastructure” elements in the state such as the electricity grids, waste treatment, and computer networks.
Congressional Republicans also introduced a bill, supported by Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, called the Protecting Military Installations and Ranges Act, which would require a review by the Committee for Foreign Investment to oversee all purchases or leases of land that exist near military installations or airspace. In particular, the law is invoked when a person is found to have connections with or is subsidized from the following list of countries: North Korea, Iran, Russia, China. The Texas law identifies these countries as “hostile nations.”
A report from the Daily Mail also picked up on the Guangxin story, noting that while the Committee on Foreign Investment approved the 59 year old billionaire’s Blue Hills Wind Development project in December of last year, the new state bill will override that decision.
The executive director of Devils River Conservancy, Julie Lewey, said that the environmental impact report didn’t gain much traction against Guangxin’s plan, but digging up his close connections to the CCP and discovering that he was formerly an army captain raised a political firestorm.
Guangxin’s team balked at the regulation, calling the response to the wind farm an overreaction.
Stephen Lindsey, a spokesman for Guangxin’s company, GH America, said that they had passed federal muster in the first place due to their commitment to transparency and their willingness to “over-comply” with regulations. He dismissed the claim that the project was a “national security deal,” instead believing that the reception to their wind farm was merely a “not in my backyard” reaction.
Author: Debbie Walker