PAWHUSKA – A judge has denied an Osage Nation challenge to a 2011 Osage County ordinance that allowed wind developments to be built.
With tribal officials and attorneys unable to point to harm caused by a specific pending project, Osage County District Judge Robert Haney ruled Tuesday that the Osage Nation did not show sufficient standing to challenge the validity of the county’s wind energy ordinance.
Citing insufficient notice of the ordinance changes, the tribe had filed for a declaratory judgment against the county commissioners and Board of Adjustment after the Oklahoma Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s dismissal in May.
Speaking from the bench, Haney said the tribe could still challenge the ordinance on a project-by-project basis if it can demonstrate that a proposed wind farm would hurt the tribe economically, spiritually or culturally.
“In the event … that someone comes to the Board of Adjustment with a wind farm permit, at that point the tribe would have standing to contest the ordinance,” Haney said.
Tuesday’s ruling has no impact on the two wind farms already online in Osage County that instigated the creation of the ordinance in 2011. However, a Corpus Christi, Texas-based wind energy company has been conducting feasibility studies on 57,000 acres in western Osage County near Burbank and Fairfax for a potential additional wind farm.
“This means we have to be diligent about any new developments,” Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear said. “If they (wind farm companies) come in and make an application, we have to be ready to say: ‘Hold it. We want … our religious leaders in there and we want our people in there see whether any of our property will be devalued by this.’ And we’re ready for that.”
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