Elected officials in Grand Forks, North Dakota, on Monday unanimously voted down plans for a Chinese-owned corn mill, following complaints from the Pentagon that the project posed a potential security risk.
The city council voted 5-0 to scrap the project that had been in the plans for more than a year.
“The City of Grand Forks has continued to operate in good faith over the last 16 months of due diligence while awaiting an official response from the federal government,” Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski said in a statement before Monday’s vote. “The federal government has requested the city’s help in stopping the project as geo-political tensions have greatly increased since the initial announcement of the project.”
Fufeng Group, a chemical manufacturer in Jinan, China, planned to open its wet corn mill on 370 acres in Grand Forks. The company still owns the property, but city officials will reject any building permits or plans to connect the land to any industrial infrastructure.
The plant would have been 12 miles from Grand Forks Air Force Base. The close proximity prompted the Pentagon to voice its objections. In a letter to North Dakota’s two Republican senators, Kevin Cramer and John Hoeven, Air Force officials said the base was “the center of military activities related to both air and space operations.”
“The proposed project presents a significant threat to national security, with both near and long-term risks of significant impacts to our operations in the area,” Assistant Air Force Secretary Andrew P. Hunter wrote in a Jan. 27 letter to Mr. Cramer.