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Politicians' hand cited in LR closing

After LM Wind Power announced plans Tuesday to close its Little Rock facility, Russell Gold, The Wall Street Journal's senior energy reporter, noted the role state elected officials had played in derailing a large green-energy project.

Gold is the author of Superpower: One Man's Quest to Transform American Energy, which highlighted efforts by Clean Line Energy CEO Michael Skelly to link Oklahoma wind power to the eastern U.S. power grid.

"Couple years back, Arkansas' U.S. Senators fought tooth & nail against a transmission line. If built, the line would've meant new wind farms. They helped defeat the line. This week, a wind turbine factory in Little Rock, Ark., closed. 470 jobs lost. Political decision were made. And now we have the consequences. Well, 470 families in Little Rock are facing the consequences," Gold wrote in successive tweets.

[CORONAVIRUS: Click here for our complete coverage »]

Clean Line Energy Partners' wanted to build a power line across Arkansas so that electricity could be generated in the windy Oklahoma panhandle and then shipped to Tennessee and points farther east.

The project faltered after landowners -- and the entire Arkansas congressional delegation, among others -- objected to the power line, saying it would be an eyesore, lower property values, endanger migratory waterfowl and force landowners to sell property against their will.

Supporters portrayed it as good for the economy, as well as the environment.

In an interview Friday, Skelly said the wind farms would have required 3,500 to 4,000 blades. The Little Rock factory would have had plenty of business, he added.

Opposition from the state's two Republican U.S. senators, John Boozman of Rogers and Tom Cotton of Dardanelle, played a major part in derailing the effort, Skelly said.

"They tried to pass a law in the United States Senate that would kill the project," Skelly said. "That does have a chilling effect on a project and on customers for a project, more specifically."

Through his spokesman, Patrick Creamer, Boozman declined to comment Friday.

"Senator Boozman is too focused on the nation's response to a pandemic to reply to the false comments of a company with a project the people of Arkansas overwhelmingly rejected," Creamer said.

Cotton could not be reached for comment.

Cotton bill seeks to let China be sued

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., introduced legislation last week that would enable Americans to sue the Chinese government for damages caused by covid-19.

The bill allows for "civil action against a foreign state for deliberate concealment or distortion of information with respect to an international public health emergency."

The Republican from Dardanelle is calling his legislation the Holding the Chinese Communist Party Accountable for Infecting Americans Act of 2020.

In the House, U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, is sponsoring similar legislation.

Normally, the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act would bar such an action. Cotton's bill creates what he described as "a narrow exception."

In a news release, Cotton accused Chinese leaders of covering up information about covid-19.

"By silencing doctors and journalists who tried to warn the world about the coronavirus, the Chinese Communist Party allowed the virus to spread quickly around the globe. Their decision to cover up the virus led to thousands of needless deaths and untold economic harm. It's only appropriate that we hold the Chinese government accountable for the damage it has caused," he stated.

Planning to visit the nation's capital? Know something happening in Washington, D.C.? Please contact Frank Lockwood at (501) 908-5204 or Want the latest from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Washington bureau? It's available on Twitter, @LockwoodFrank.

SundayMonday on 04/19/2020

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