- Associated Press - Thursday, October 1, 2015

PAWHUSKA, Okla. (AP) - An Oklahoma federal judge has rejected arguments from the Osage Nation and U.S. Interior Department that digging foundations for wind turbines violates tribal mineral rights.

U.S. District Judge James Payne issued the ruling Wednesday, the Tulsa World reported (https://bit.ly/1M4h2ls ).

The tribe and federal government filed a lawsuit in November, arguing that excavating for wind turbine foundations had removed limestone and other near-surface minerals belonging to the tribe in Osage County.

But the judge said the tribe’s interpretation of what constituted “mining” under federal law was too broad.

“A broader reading would mean that any time a surface owner digs a hole on his or her land that would disturb any quantity of common minerals, he or she would have to obtain either a permit or a lease for any digging and backfilling,” the ruling says.

The pits for each wind-turbine site were as large as 60 feet wide and 30 feet deep. The project, owned by Italy-based Enel Green Power, covers roughly 8,400 acres. The area is located west of Pawhuska, which is about 57 miles northwest of Tulsa.

The tribe lost a lawsuit that contended the project would interfere with oil and gas production.

The newspaper says company and tribal officials couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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