Penny Starr. Lawmakers in Texas have blocked a Chinese billionaire’s push to build a 15,000-acre wind farm on a large swath of land he purchased after news of his plans drew the attention of a conservancy group.
It warned first about the environmental impact and then noted Sun Guangxin’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party and how the project could give him access to the state’s electricity grid.
And the 140,000 acres that Sun snapped up in recent years is near Laughlin Air Force Base raising national security concerns.
Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act into law in June.
“As far as I know this is the first law of its kind by any state in the United States of America,” Abbott said of the bill designed to prevent “hostile nations” from accessing Texas’ electricity grid and other “critical infrastructure,” such as computer networks and waste treatment systems.
Republicans in Congress also weighed in, including Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ted Cruz, with the latter introducing the Protecting Military Installations and Ranges Act of 2021, a bill that would require the Committee for Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to re-review “any purchase or lease of real estate near a military installation or military airspace in the United States by a foreign person connected to or subsidized by “China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea.”
The Texas law also lists those four countries as “hostile nations.”
Sun 59, said through a spokesman that he intends to lease the land to other companies, so they can operate the wind farm.
Politicians in Texas argue that that would violate the June 7 bill.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which investigates and decides on the national security implications of foreign investments, approved Sun’s Blue Hills Wind Development in December 2020, but the new bill – authored by Donna Campbell, a Texas state senator – is designed to override that.
Julie Lewey, executive director of the Devils River Conservancy, said while the environmental impact didn’t gain traction pointing out Sun’s past, including being a member in good standing of the CCP and a former army captain, caused a political firestorm.
“We’re not xenophobic, but we are concerned for our national security, as every red-blooded American is,” Lewey said.
But Sun’s team insisted that the response is an over-reaction.
Stephen Lindsey, a spokesman for GH America, Sun’s company involved in the wind farms, said it received federal approval because GH America is committed to transparency and ‘over-comply[ing] with the regulatory structure,” the Mail reported.
Lindsey said national security concerns had been addressed already through the federal regulatory channels.
“It’s being spun up as a national security deal, but really what it is is a way to say: ‘not in my backyard,’” Lindsey said.