Grand Forks to suspend construction of Fufeng plant after federal panel requests more information – Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — A federal committee reviewing the Fufeng Group’s wet corn mill project in Grand Forks said it needed more information before it could determine whether Chinese agribusiness poses a national security risk. .

Grand Forks Mayor Brandon Bochenski said the city intends to “suspend construction on specific items in Fufeng USA” until the federal review is complete.

City officials released a one-page letter from the United States Foreign Investment Committee on Thursday, September 1, after the document was shared with the Fufeng Group.

In the memo, CFIUS staff chairman Andrew Fair said the information provided by Fufeng was “insufficient”. He gave the company five days to tell the federal panel whether it will comply with the request for additional information.

A statement from Fufeng Group says the company has been “open and cooperative” with CFIUS and will continue to comply with the panel’s request.

“Fufeng USA looks forward to the success of the CFIUS process and will work diligently to make it happen,” the statement said.

Grand Forks City Administrator Todd Feland said the additional information provided to CFIUS by Fufeng and the owners who sold the company’s land will allow the panel to determine whether it has the authority to assess the project for national security risks.

The panel’s review is expected to take 45 to 90 days, according to a city press release.

Bochenski said the city views the panel’s request for information as “a positive sign that the utmost due diligence will be performed on the proposed project.”

Temporarily halting construction of specific infrastructure in Fufeng would mean suspending a raw water supply system and a sewage pumping system, Feland said. Other infrastructure projects, including a water main and stormwater retention pond, planned for shared use by Fufeng and other developments in the area, will go ahead, he said. he declares.

The CFIUS review is seen as the next shoe to drop in a month-long row on the proposed factory.

In July, Republican Gov. Doug Burgum asked the Federal Interagency Council to expedite its review. A spokesperson for Burgum said the governor supports the city’s decision to suspend construction.

The plant, planned for the northern outskirts of the city, caused enormous controversy in Grand Forks and outside. Some opponents of the project worry the plant will have a negative impact on its environment, though many critics say Fufeng’s ties to China pose a security risk to nearby Grand Forks Air Force Base.

Ben Grzadzielewski, an outspoken critic of the project, said Thursday night that he thinks if there are so many citizens who oppose a project like this, the city should listen and consider their concerns.

Fufeng Group chief operating officer Eric Chutorash has repeatedly said that the plant will not be involved in spying on the air force base. A senior Air Force base official said he was unaware of any “obvious security threats” arising from the plant.

Last week, the senses. Americans John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, both RN.D., told the Grand Forks Herald they had advised local and state leaders not to go ahead with the plant, citing safety concerns.

Cramer railed against Fufeng and the Chinese government in a television interview with Newsmax on Thursday, saying, “We know how good they (the Chinese) are at spying.”

“My feeling is that (this project) won’t happen,” Cramer said. “I strongly believe that before this is done, this transaction will be stopped and undone. Local leaders want to see the process unfold.