Judge rules wind turbines on native land must be removed

 January 22, 2024

In a significant legal decision, a federal judge has mandated the removal of over 80 wind turbines from an Oklahoma prairie, marking both a setback for the Biden administration's green energy agenda and a triumph for the Osage Nation.

The Osage Nation, claiming the land to be sacred, actively sought the removal of the turbines, and a federal judge has now ruled in their favor.

The case

The turbines, standing tall on the prairie north of Pawhuska in Osage County, have been a fixture for nearly a decade, generating renewable energy.

Last month, a federal judge issued an order requiring Enel Green Power North America and two other companies responsible for the wind farm to dismantle the turbines.

Wilson Pipestem, representing the Osage Minerals Council, part of the Osage Nation overseeing oil and gas development, emphasized that agreements with the wind energy companies excluded the Osage Nation.

He pointed to the violation of Osage Nation sovereignty, citing the 1906 Osage Allotment Act, which granted the Osage Nation rights to the oil, gas, rocks, and soil underneath their land.

The legal battle

During legal proceedings, the wind farm companies argued that they didn't need permission as their turbines were above ground.

The court was shown a video depicting a blast for the turbine foundation, with lawyers contending that the companies were effectively mining without proper permits. The judge concurred with this argument.

Carol Conner, who, along with her late husband Joe Conner, actively raised awareness about the environmental impact of the wind farm on the prairie, welcomed the court's decision.

Osage citizens, she explained, view the horizon as sacred, and the placement of turbines on high ridges, potentially where ancestors are buried, raised concerns.

The company's dilemma

Enel Green Power North America, one of the companies involved, expressed disagreement with the judge's removal order and hinted at a possible appeal.

The company contends that the removal could incur costs of around $300 million in a massive blow to the green energy corporation.

A court date is pending to determine if the companies must compensate the Osage Nation for the material extracted more than a decade ago during the construction of the wind farm as the green energy effort continues to backfire even among Native Americans who are often seen as Democratic supporters.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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