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Osage Nation chief opposes proposed wind farm near tallgrass prairie  

Credit:  By Staff Reports, www.tulsaworld.com 13 June 2011 ~~

The chief of a Native American tribe today issued a statement opposing the proposed development of a wind farm in Osage County.

“Following careful research, consideration and discussion, I have concluded that it is not in the best interest of the Osage Nation to support the proposed large wind farm developments in Osage County,” said Chief John Red Eagle.

“Although the Nation is not opposed to alternative energy development, large wind farms are not conducive to the Nation’s overall economic initiatives and environment.”

Osage County Commissioners in April unanimously approved a wind energy ordinance, saying that regardless of whether it was enacted, companies have the right erect the massive turbines.

The regulations have sparked controversy in Osage County, where two wind companies, TradeWind Energy of Lenexa, Kan., and Wind Capital Group of St. Louis, are hoping to build two wind farms west of Pawhuska on privately owned portions of tallgrass prairie. Together, the companies would build farms totaling 300 megawatts, or about 185 1.6 megawatt turbines.

The Nature Conservancy has been one of the most adamant opponents to wind development, saying the turbines would fragment the last unspoiled prairie in the United States.

Red Eagle cited the tribe’s minerals council, saying it opposes the proposed project because it could adversely affect minerals development.

“The areas being initially considered by the first two wind development companies cover approximately 30,000 acres and are located in a prime area for future oil and gas recovery,” he said.

“Furthermore, it is my opinion that the proposed projects will have an adverse impact upon the overall ecosystem of the Tallgrass Prairie, a true national treasure,” Red Eagle said.

“The last remnants of the Tallgrass Prairie run from Osage County northward, into northern Kansas and I believe that the Osage Nation must join others in its protection, restoration, and properly make use of the limited opportunities the prairie provides everyone, including its wildlife.”

Red Eagle said representatives of his office have visited with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin’s office, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, Osage County Commissioners, and a land owner who hopes to lease his property to the developers.

“Our County Commissioners need revenue enhancement to effectively serve the citizens, just as the land owners see a financial opportunity for themselves. However, I believe there are other financial opportunities that can be explored and alternatives found for the land owners as well, such as conservation easements,” the chief said.

Source:  By Staff Reports, www.tulsaworld.com 13 June 2011

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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