Denver Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Two Osage County Land Owners

The U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver has ruled against two northeast Oklahoma residents in their legal fight against oil and gas operations in Osage County.

The federal appeals court upheld a lower court judge’s ruling to dismiss the suit filed by Martha Donelson and John Friend. The two had originally filed suit against Devon Energy then added 27 other defendants in an amended filing.

Donelson is a surface land owner near Burbank while Friend owns surface land near Hominy. In both cases, their land is subject to oil and gas operations approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The original lawsuit claimed numerous regulatory approvals related to the oil and gas operations were issued in violation of the National environmental Policy Act. But the suit was dismissed and in a ruling handed down last week, the federal appeals court also agreed that the court lacked jurisdiction for the lawsuit.

“Because plaintiffs fail to adequately identify the particular agency actions that aggrieve them and explain how they are final, the suit was properly dismissed,” said the appeals court.

The court further noted, “Named plaintiffs have alleged that their properties were affected by some oil and gas activities. However, their allegations with respect to their particular properties are insufficient.”

And the ruling stated, “We conclude that the named plaintiffs lack standing to pursue most of their claims, and that they failed to identify any specific final agency action as to claims for which they might possess standing. According we affirm the district court’s dismissal for lack of jurisdiction.”