PAWHUSKA – The Osage Nation has withdrawn an appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that denied the tribe’s attempt to prevent the building of a wind farm.
The announcement came Thursday through the tribe’s Osage Minerals Council, which dropped the appeal the day before.
Wind Capital Group of St. Louis, Mo., is constructing a 94-turbine wind farm west of Pawhuska near Burbank.
“We still have the same concerns, the Osage mineral estate and the ecosystem out there as well,” Chris White, the Osage Nation’s executive director of governmental affairs, said Thursday. “We believe if those industrial wind projects come in that it will change that ecosystem forever.”
In a statement, White said, “The Osage Nation has pursued and will continue to pursue several other avenues to prevent construction from going forward.”
In a telephone interview, he said the tribe’s reason for withdrawing its appeal “involves a legal strategy.”
U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell ruled Dec. 15, at the end 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 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.
White said: “We know that three wind developers are wanting to come into Osage County. That’s initially. We think there will be a bunch more lined up once we open the doors to them.”
White said two of the developers, Wind Capital and TradeWind Energy of Lenexa, Kan., “estimate the total acreage they will need will be 30,000 acres. The highest numbers they’ve estimated of wind turbines is up to 300.”
Developers say they need to break ground soon for the wind farm to be completed by the end of 2012 and thus qualify for an essential tax credit.
Wind Capital Group spokesman Tony Wyche would not comment on the tribe’s move. He added that developers are engaged in preconstruction activities at the site.
Original Print Headline: Wind farm appeal dropped
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