Osage wind farm battle still underway in Tulsa federal court


Six years after the Osage Nation and the federal government went to court over a wind farm development, the case is still being heard in Tulsa federal court where a judge recently issued rulings.

The case involves construction of a wind farm by Osage Wind, a company sued for not obtaining mineral permits to construct the wind farm and its 84 wind turbines in the county. The tribe and federal government filed suit contending the construction of the base of the wind towers constituted mining and the company had not obtained mining permits.

Before the matter could be decided, the wind farm, operated by Enel Green Power was completed and operational.

In a 2017 decision,the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that the construction, the crushing of rocks and use of minerals constituted mineral development that required a federally approved lease.

Since then, the government and the Osage Mineral Estate have attempted to file amended complaints and requests in the matter. Osage Wind has objected in each case.

The government wanted to amend its complaint to include a declaratory judgment to find the company “severally liable for damages resulting from trespass and conversion.” As late as December of last year, the government wanted an accounting of any revenue Osage Wind had gained from the wind farm operation, something the company opposed in court.

The government also sought to accuse Osage Wind of building the wind farm “willfully and intentionally and in bad faith.”

But U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell denied the motion filed by the government.

On a motion filed by the wind company against the efforts of the Osage Mineral Council seeking the profits of Osage Wind during the time of operation of the wind farm, Judge Frizzell ruled in support of the company. But he ruled the OMC could proceed with its claims that the wind farm company trespassed on tribal land.

The judge set a status and scheduling conference for Wednesday.