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U.S. court dismisses Chinese firm's claims against Obama over wind farm

U.S. President Barack Obama listens to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speak in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Februar
U.S. President Barack Obama listens to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speak in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Februar

By Erin Geiger Smith

(Reuters) - A federal judge in Washington on Friday dismissed most of the claims brought by a small Chinese firm against President Barack Obama for squashing its bid to build wind farms close to a naval training site.

Experts had predicted the lawsuit had little chance to succeed because of the president's broad powers to protect national security.

Ralls Corp, a company owned by two Chinese nationals, was installing wind turbines close to the training site in Oregon, which, according to the facility's web site, is used to test unmanned drones - a highly sensitive and prized U.S. technology.

Obama issued an order instructing Ralls to sell off the four planned wind farms due to national security risks, the first time since 1990 that a U.S. president has formally blocked a business transaction or required a sale on such grounds.

In its suit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington in September, Ralls said the president had exceeded his authority and that the U.S. had provided no evidence or explanation of what the alleged national security risks were.

In Friday's ruling, U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson said the court did not have jurisdiction to hear challenges to Obama's order that Ralls end its plans because such an order is not subject to judicial review.

The court did say Ralls could move forward with its challenge to how the statute at issue was implemented in this case.

Ralls has argued that the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution entitles it to hear the reasons for the president's decision.

The court noted that "it is not ruling that the due process claim has merit - simply that it is bound" to decide the claim.

Tim Tingkang Xia, an attorney for Ralls, said they "look forward to litigating this matter on the merits and vindicating the rule of law."

The U.S. Department of Justice was not immediately available to comment.

Obama's order followed a recommendation from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, an interagency group headed by the Treasury secretary that evaluates the national security risks of foreign investments in U.S. companies or operations.

The case is Ralls Corporation v. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 12-01513.

(Reporting by Erin Geiger Smith; Editing by Jackie Frank)

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