The Osage Nation filed notice Thursday that it is appealing a Tulsa federal judge’s denial of the tribe’s attempt to prevent the construction of a 94-turbine wind farm west of Pawhuska.
Chris White, executive director of governmental affairs for the Osage Nation, issued a statement late Thursday that addressed the appeal.
“We feel today’s action speaks for itself. We firmly believe the initial ruling was an error, and we continue to believe the legal standing of the Osage Minerals Trust is paramount and fully protected under federal law,” White stated.
U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell ruled Dec. 15, at the conclusion of a two-day nonjury trial, that the tribe’s claim that the development would interfere with its mineral rights was based on speculation.
Frizzell found that the mere possibility that a dispute could arise between the wind farm and those who might drill for oil and gas on the same Osage County land was not enough to justify an injunction that would have stopped the project.
The judge noted that Orion Exploration had plans to drill this year on only one site on the extreme western edge of the wind farm territory, which he said was not sufficient to establish “unreasonable interference” with the tribe’s mineral rights.
The Osage Nation, through the Osage Minerals Council, filed the lawsuit Oct. 18.
It noted that the tribe owns all the minerals “in and under” Osage County and claimed that construction of the wind turbines would interfere with future oil and natural gas production, which provides income for eligible Osage citizens.
Developers claimed that they need to break ground very soon for the wind farm to be completed by the end of 2012 and thus qualify for an essential tax credit.
Tony Wyche, a spokesman for defendant Wind Capital Group, said Thursday night that “preconstruction activities” are ongoing at the power generation site.
Original Print Headline: Osages appealing wind farm ruling
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