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Bureau of Indian Affairs warns Osage County

In a second letter issued to Osage County Commissioners, the Bureau of Indian Affairs again expressed its opposition to wind farm development in Osage County. In the letter, the BIA warned that proposed wind power facilities could significantly interfere with current and future oil development of the Osage Mineral Estate. The BIA noted that both federal and state laws prohibit such interference. The letter states, “the mineral estate cannot be denied reasonable access to the surface, and may, indeed, use so much of the surface estate as may be necessary to develop and produce the minerals.” The BIA cautioned commissioners that it would consider litigation to halt construction if necessary to prevent any interference with oil and gas production. Osage Nation Executive Director of Governmental Affairs Chris White said the Osage Nation already has plans to take legal action to prevent the development of wind energy facilities that would unreasonably interfere with the Osage Mineral Estate. White said the Osage Nation will not wait until the damage is done to the Tallgrass Prairie by this industrial wind project to take legal action and that the Osage Minerals Council has a legal team in place and preparation is nearly complete to file against the proper parties in this matter. He added that the Nation would prefer to not have to take legal action, but the commissioners and wind developers have left the Nation with no choice. White also says a coalition appears to be forming in Osage County. He said ranchers, oil and gas producers, conservationists, concerned citizens and the Osage Nation are banding together with one common interest, and have become stronger in the overall effort to put a halt to the project