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Tribe Loses Fight Against Osage County Wind Farm Regulations

The Osage Tribe apparently isn’t giving up in its fight against wind farms in Osage County, even after losing a court case this week in Pawhuska.

It was there a judge denied the Osage Nation challenge to the rules created by Osage county that will allow further development of wind farms.

Osage County District Judge Robert Haney ruled this week the Osage Nation did not show sufficient standing to challenge the county’s wind energy ordinance. He issued the ruling and indicated tribal officials and their attorneys could not point to specific harm caused by the pending Mustang Run Wind project.

“We want…our religious leaders in there and we want our people in there (to) see whether any of our property will be devalued by this. And we’re ready for that,” said Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear in an interview with Indianz.Com.

Tribal leaders contend the wind turbines will disturb bald eagles and the farms interfere with tribal mineral rights. They filed suit, along with their Osage Minerals Council in June 2014. The case was CV-2014-00041 in Osage County District Court.

Judge Haney said in his decision that the tribe could still challenge the ordinance on a project-by-project basis.

“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,” said the judge.

Two wind farms are already online in Osage County and it was their development that resulted in Osage County officials creating the ordinance in 2011. But the tribe’s growing concern has been prompted by a Texas wind energy company’s feasibility studies on 57,000 acres in the western part of the county near Burbank and Fairfax.

 

“This means we have to be diligent about any new developments,” Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear told the Tulsa World. “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.”