Texas DROVE OUT a Chinese FIRM, but not wind farm IT PLANNED

Long before a Chinese spy balloon captivated and spooked the US public, Kyle Bass foresaw what he deemed another foreign danger slated for skies above the Texas-Mexico border: wind turbines. Dozens of them, roughly 700 feet (213 metres) tall — as big as San Antonio’s tallest skyscraper — were set to sprout across thousands of scrubby acres near the pristine Devils River. Protests that a wind farm would harm a sensitive ecosystem in Texas flopped, but when attention turned to a Chinese billionaire behind the project, state lawmakers raced to pull the plug. “Drumming up the ire against the national security issues was easier than the environmental issues,” said Bass, whose Monarch Ranch near the Mexico border and the planned wind farm is a flight path for migrating birds and butterflies.
US-China ties are strained amid growing tensions over security and trade. In nearly a dozen statehouses and Congress, a decades-old worry about foreign land ownership has spiked since the US military shot down a Chinese spy balloon last month after it traversed the skies from Alaska to South Carolina.Local fears about national security initially yielded a victory for Bass and other Texas landowners in Val Verde County. But in a twist, plans for some of the tallest wind turbines in the country are back on — causing whiplash here in the rural borderlands, hurt feelings and testing of the limits of environmental action against renewable projects proliferating across the country. While President Joe Biden wants more wind and solar power to fight climate change, local resistance is growing in places asked to live with towering turbines. Some East Coast residents pushing back against thousands of them embody the opposition as the US pursues deploying enough wind energy offshore by 2030 to power 10 million homes. In South Texas, worries over the wind farm being developed by GH America Energy, which is controlled by Chinese billionaire Sun Guangxin, fast torpedoed the project in 2021, previewing the wave of states now considering limits on foreign land ownership. Texas lawmakers altogether banned Chinese companies from accessing the state’s power grid and other critical infrastructure, forcing the aspiring wind farm developers to sell their interest. The Spanish renewable energy company Greenalia bought it, wiping away national security concerns. On a recent afternoon in February in Dolan Falls, cascading water was the only sound in a hollow of peaceful greenery.

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