While ruling against the tribe on several other issues Tuesday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court will let the Osage Nation challenge the validity of a 2011 county ordinance that allowed wind developments to be built in Osage County.
In a 5-1 decision, the justices overturned a lower court’s dismissal of the case, which argues that the Osage County Wind Energy Ordinance should be thrown out because county commissioners allegedly failed to give proper public notice before approving it.
Justice Noma Gurich, however, issued a dissenting opinion that criticizes the court’s majority for giving the tribe “one last futile attempt” to stop wind developments “instead of finally putting this case to rest.”
The tribe has filed several unsuccessful lawsuits in both state and federal courts to block or at least curtail wind developments in the state’s largest county, arguing that massive wind turbines are spoiling the prairie’s scenic beauty, endangering wildlife and interfering with the tribe’s access to its mineral estate.
The Supreme Court ruled against the Osage Nation on several other arguments, agreeing with a lower court that the tribe waited too long to file some of the legal challenges.
“The court’s decisions lean heavily in favor of the windmill companies,” said Holli Wells, the Osage Nation’s attorney general. “It is a sad day in Indian Country, especially for the Osage Nation and our revered eagle population.”
Owned by Enel Green Power North America, the Osage Wind development became operational in summer 2015, with nearly 100 wind turbines spread across 8,400 acres west of Pawhuska.
Enel officials did not respond to a request for comments.