We reported in July that Senators Marco Rubio, Kevin Cramer, and John Hoeven called on the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, or CFIUS, to review Chinese company Fufeng Group’s purchase of 370 acres of farmland 12 miles from Grand Forks Air Force Base.
In new developments, Senator John Hoeven has now joined Senator Kevin Cramer in publicly opposing the project.
Josh Meny spoke with Senator Hoeven and breaks down how much this could swing the pendulum away from the project ever seeing the light of day.
Performing a whirlwind of cable news interviews, putting the project front and center on the national stage for concerns relating to China’s threat to national security, and interference in critical supply chains, particularly our food security.
But, now, Senator John Hoeven has gotten on board, publicly coming out against the project.
“So some time ago, I told the mayor, governor, and others that no, I’m recommending that instead of Fufeng, or the Chinese company, they should work to find an American company to come in and do the agricultural park because of security concerns,” explained Senator John Hoeven.
As a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee, Hoeven has been a major player in bringing cutting-edge aerospace defense technology to North Dakota
Just this week, Hoeven announced that the air force is bringing in 20 modified remotely piloted Global Hawks for hypersonic missile testing.
Hoeven says these advanced aerospace companies have a lot of apprehension about a Chinese company being so close.
“We’re going to actually have 16 companies working on the Skyridge program up there. And so in addition to talking to our military, I’ve also put time into now talking to these tech companies that are coming in there as well. And they’ve expressed concerns,” said Hoeven.
With Cramer and now Hoeven against the project, what does this mean for North Dakota taxpayers?
So far, more than $14 million in state taxpayer funds have been committed to the project, according to this breakdown from the Grand Forks economic development agency.
And another $6 million from the federal government has flowed into the project. But if the project fails to move forward, will the taxpayer’s money be returned to the state?
“We all called and sent emails in an effort to get some answers,” said People for the Vote LLC’s Ben Grzadzielewski.
Grzadzielewski is a member of the local citizen’s group opposed to the project, People for the Vote LLC. We asked him what Senator Hoeven’s voice means for their cause.
“It gives us some sort of validation as a community. We have been saying this forever. Now for someone from city council to say what you’re saying doesn’t make sense, now they don’t have that option anymore, they have lost that ability, I feel. With our Senators coming on board, both of them, with only one Senator being opposed and one being on their side, they can still rely on that guy and say no Hoeven is all for it. Now they don’t have that ability and it’s huge. It really skews things in our favor,” said Grzadzielewski.
The People for the Vote LLC says they are putting pressure on Governor Burgum to take a stance on the project.
The group has sued the City of Grand Forks because the City disqualified their petition to put the project to a vote, despite having well over the needed signatures.
The group reported to KX News at around 7:45 p.m. Friday night that they lost their case.
In the meantime, People for the Vote and the rest of the nation are watching for the results of the Federal CFIUS review of the project.
KX News has received a statement from Governor Doug Burgum concerning both of our U.S. Senators’ opposition to the project.