Part of a long-running court case involving permits for wind farms in Osage County will head back to district court, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
The Osage Nation and the Osage Minerals Council have been fighting the wind farms in district court since 2011, when Osage County commissioners adopted an ordinance on wind developments.
Separate appeals over the process used to issue permits to the Osage Wind LLC project were consolidated by the Supreme Court.
In Tuesday’s ruling, the court affirmed a lower court’s decision over a conditional use permit issued in 2014. But the court affirmed in part and reversed in part an appeal over a permit issued in 2011.
In a 5-1 ruling, the Supreme Court said the Osage Nation and Osage Minerals Council waited too long to appeal its denial of an injunction against the project. Three justices didn’t participate in the decision.
“Plaintiffs brought their action almost three years after a permit was issued by the governmental agency authorizing the location of the project and after construction had commenced on a utility-scale construction project,” the ruling said. “Plaintiffs had knowledge of the scale and location of the project during that period.”
However, the Supreme Court reversed the district court’s ruling that the Osage Nation lacked standing to protest the permit. It sent that part of the case back to district court.
Vice Chief Justice Noma Gurich dissented over the standing issue.
“The majority, instead of finally putting this case to rest, remands the case to the district court to allow the Osage Nation one last futile attempt at invalidating the Osage County wind energy ordinance passed in 2011,” Gurich wrote. “The Osage County district court’s dismissal of all of the Nation’s claims should be upheld because the ordinance is not subject to invalidation at this point.”
Osage Wind, owned by Enel Green Power North America, has been in commercial operation since 2015.
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