Federal Judge Sides with Osage Nation, Orders Removal Of 84 Wind Turbines

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Robert Bryce.

Enel’s trespass on the tribe’s mineral estate echoes themes in Killers Of The Flower Moon

The Osage Nation won a massive ruling in Tulsa federal court on Wednesday that requires Enel to dismantle a 150-megawatt wind project it built in Osage County despite the tribe’s repeated objections. The tribe’s fight against Rome-based Enel began in 2011 and is the longest-running legal battle over wind energy in American history.

As reported by Curtis Killman in the Tulsa World on Thursday, the ruling grants the United States, the Osage Nation, and Osage Minerals Council permanent injunctive relief via “ejectment of the wind turbine farm for continuing trespass.”

The decision by U.S. Court of International Trade Judge Jennifer Choe-Graves is the culmination of 12 years of litigation that pitted the tribe and federal authorities against Enel. During the construction of the project, the company illegally mined rock owned by the tribe, and it continued to do so even after being ordered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to stop. Instead of halting work, the company sped up construction. Enel must now remove the 84 turbines that it built on 8,400 acres of the Tallgrass Prairie located between Pawhuska and Fairfax. Removing the turbines will cost Enel some $300 million.

Under the Osage Allotment Act of 1906, the tribe owns the rights to the minerals beneath the land it bought from the Cherokee Nation in the late 1800s. Those mineral rights include oil, natural gas, and the rocks that Enel mined and crushed for the wind project. By mining without permission, the company violated the tribe’s sovereignty. Choe-Graves concluded that Enel “failed to acquire a mining lease during or after construction, as well as after issuance of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision holding that a mining lease was required” in 2017. She continued, saying the company’s “past and continued refusal to obtain a lease constitutes interference with the sovereignty of the Osage Nation and is sufficient to constitute irreparable injury.”

The court victory comes at the same time that the Osage Nation is getting massive media attention due to the October release of Martin Scorsese’s epic film, Killers Of The Flower Moon, which is still being shown in theaters. Last week, Richard Brody, the film critic at the New Yorker, declared that Killers is the best movie of 2023. The movie is also racking up accolades and nominations for numerous awards. For instance, Lily Gladstone, who stars in the film as Mollie Burkhart, has been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress.

Judge Choe-Graves’ decision is a huge win for tribal members like Tommy Daniels, who have long pushed for the removal of the wind turbines. “If I had the power, boom!, they’d be gone,” Daniels said in an interview I did with him last year in Fairfax. Daniels is one of the last full-blood Osages. The wind project “kills birds, like eagles, I don’t like that,” he added.

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Daniels and other Osage tribal members opposed the project because of its potential intrusion on sacred burial sites, as well as the 420-foot-high turbines’ deadly impact on eagles. In 2021, I interviewed Joe Conner, a tribal member and publisher of The Fairfax Chief. Conner, who passed away on September 12, 2023, told me, “Many tribal members have objections because of the fear of damaging the environment, sacred birds, particularly eagles, that would be caught up in the turbine blades.”

The interviews with Daniels, Conner, and other tribal members are featured in my upcoming docuseries, Juice: Power, Politics, And The Grid. That five-part docuseries, directed by my colleague, Tyson Culver, will be released on YouTube beginning January 31, 2024. (The docuseries includes more than 30 interviews with top thought leaders. Tyson has done an amazing job putting the episodes together. More details to come in early January.)  

By thrashing Enel in court, the Osage tribe not only stands to collect millions of dollars in damages and the removal of the loathsome turbines, it also has handed Big Wind the biggest public relations debacle in its history. It’s not just that the wind industry lost; it lost to a Native American tribe. That’s a particularly bad look when it comes to the branding of wind energy as “clean,” “green,” “sustainable,” and, of course, “renewable.”  

The tribe’s victory will be costly for Enel. But it’s also an embarrassing loss for Big Wind and its allies. For years, big business, big banks, big law firms, academics from elite universities, and big NGOs, have been siding with the wind industry as it tried to steamroll rural landowners and governments. Further, while the industry has dealt with scattered instances where a handful of wind turbines have been torn down due to opposition, such as the removal of two turbines last year in Falmouth, Massachusetts, it has never faced a loss of this magnitude.

Getting rid of two wind turbines in Falmouth can be ignored. Removing 84 turbines? That is unprecedented.  

The Osage tribe’s victory over Enel provides more proof of the increasing opposition to wind energy from rural residents all over the world. Earlier this month, a French court ordered a wind project in southern France to be dismantled. That project faced years of complaints from residents about noise pollution. (More on that in a future Substack.) Indeed, the Osage tribe’s victory shows — yet again — that all across rural America, local people are fighting to preserve their neighborhoods against the landscape-, viewshed-, and wildlife-destroying impact of massive wind turbines. That is particularly true for members of the Osage tribe, who believe in the sacredness of the place where the earth meets the sky.

The extent of rural resistance to Big Wind and Big Solar is evident in the Renewable Rejection Database. Since 2015, there have been 417 rejections or restrictions of wind energy in the U.S. and those rejections have occurred from Maine to Hawaii. So far this year, there have been 50 rejections or restrictions of wind energy and 68 solar rejections. Actually, come to think of it, Wednesday’s court ruling brings the total to 51 rejections of wind energy in 2023.

The tribe’s court victory shows that Killers Of The Flower Moon is not ancient history. Scorsese’s film, (it’s terrific, by the way), based on the remarkable book of the same name by David Grann, shows, in sometimes-too-graphic detail, how outsiders took advantage of the Osage tribe and its oil wealth by murdering dozens of tribal members. But the effort to exploit the tribe’s minerals didn’t end in the 1920s. It continues to this day.

In its pursuit of the wind project, Enel displayed a staggering amount of arrogance and greed. It repeatedly ignored the federal government’s warnings that it must not violate the tribe’s mineral rights. Why was Enel in a rush? The answer is obvious. Just as Bill Hale (the “King of the Osage Hills”), his nephew, Earnest Burkhart, and many other whites conspired to murder wealthy Osage tribal members during the Reign of Terror a century ago, Enel did it for the money.

By ignoring the tribe and attempting to take its minerals, Enel aimed to collect tens of millions of dollars in federal tax credits. As Conner explained it, Enel “completely dismissed us as anything they needed to take seriously.” He continued, saying the Italian company was among “a long line of exploiters, if you will, who decided this is something they can do, and not have to pay much for, and make, you know, lots and lots of money.”

In 2011, according to an article by Benny Polacca of the Osage News, the superintendent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Pawhuska wrote a letter to the tribe four days after the Osage County Board of Adjustment approved a variance request for the wind project. The BIA official warned that the project “may have to be removed or relocated” if it interferes with the tribe’s mineral estate. Despite that warning, Enel began building the wind project in 2013. As seen below, on October 9, 2014, the BIA sent a letter to Enel telling it to “refrain from any further excavation of minerals” for the wind project “until such time that you have obtained a Sandy Soil Permit through the Osage Agency. Failure to comply may result in this matter being forwarded to the Office of the Field Solicitor for further action.”

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In 2014, the federal government filed a lawsuit seeking a judgment that Enel had engaged in unauthorized mining. That still didn’t stop the company, which commissioned the wind project in 2015. Since then, Enel, by my calculations, has been collecting about $10 million per year in federal tax credits. And remember, the company has been getting that $10 million per year before it sells any of the juice from the project.

I made two attempts to get a comment from Enel about the ruling, including a phone call and email to their Oklahoma City-based spokesman. Enel did not reply.

Enel has repeatedly trumpeted itself as a “clean energy leader.” On its website, Enel North America says it is “advancing a just transition to 100% renewable electricity.” In addition, the CEO of Enel Green Power North America, Paolo Romanacci, sits on the board of directors at the American Clean Power Association, the lobby group that spends about $32 million per year promoting the interests of Big Solar and Big Wind.  

Wednesday’s court ruling may also prove embarrassing (and costly) to some of Osage County’s most prominent people, including the Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, M. John Kane IV. Property records show that a large portion of the Enel wind project was built on land owned or controlled by Kane’s family. Kane was appointed to the state’s highest court in 2019 by Governor Kevin Stitt, who has been antagonizing Oklahoma’s tribes ever since he took office. Kane became chief justice earlier this year. On Monday, I called Kane’s office to ask about the Osage tribe’s litigation against Enel. His assistant, Kinsey Hicks, told me that Kane would not comment because justices are “not allowed to talk about things involving pending litigation.”

After the ruling, the Tulsa World quoted Osage Minerals Council Chairman Everett Waller saying, “This is a win not only for the Osage Minerals Council; this is a win for Indian Country.” He continued, “There are a lot of smaller tribes that couldn’t have battled this long, but that’s why we’re Osages…We’re here, and this is our homeland, and we are going to protect it at all costs.”

On Friday morning, I talked to Scott Lohah, an Osage tribal member who has been a longtime opponent of the Enel wind project. (Lohah is also featured in our docuseries.) When I asked him about the court ruling, he said, “Everyone in the tribe is ecstatic.”

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Tom Halla
December 23, 2023 2:13 pm

The Osage should insist that the foundations for the turbines be removed, as well, restore the land to it’s original state.

Loren Wilson
Reply to  Tom Halla
December 23, 2023 5:44 pm

That was my question. Removing the bird-choppers is not going to cost as much as breaking up the foundations and removing them and then restoring the site to its pre-windmill condition.

December 23, 2023 2:17 pm

A very-well-done to The Osage Nation for winning in the Tulsa Federal C in its action against Enel and its monstrous, ugly, and quite unnecessary 150-megawatt wind project in Osage County. Winning such a long struggle, since 2011, against the well-funded Enel Group is a monument to environmentalism and a blow against Eco-Vandalism in the name of ‘Climate Change’.

Rich Davis
Reply to  ntesdorf
December 24, 2023 9:33 am

Missing from this story is how a windmill gets erected on somebody else’s land, or how the Osage have jurisdiction over somebody else’s land?

Although I applaud the tearing down of any eagle shredding grid disrupting eyesore, I’d like to understand when and how property rights were trampled in this case.

Richard Page
Reply to  Rich Davis
December 24, 2023 10:30 am

The land isn’t owned by the tribe but individuals who are free to sell if they want to, although the Osage keep the mineral rights to the land. That’s what happened in this case – the land is privately owned and the land owner gave Enel the right to build on it but, because it was within the Osage reservation, neither the land owner nor Enel had the mineral rights.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Rich Davis
December 24, 2023 10:32 am

Surface and mining rights are separable. Apparently the Osage retained mining rights.

Reply to  Tom Halla
December 24, 2023 1:04 pm

So how does excavating for foundations become mining and taking of minerals. Seems like an odd legal detour to take . Then have it adjudicated not the local Federal District Court but instead The DC Court of International Trade even odder

Tom Halla
Reply to  Duker
December 24, 2023 1:16 pm

Read the story. The aggregate for the foundations was mined on the site.

Reply to  Tom Halla
December 24, 2023 6:19 pm

Holes were dug for foundations , not ‘mined’

The large reinforced concrete slab was poured in the 10ft deep and roughly 60 ft diameter excavation. The excavated material was put on above the slab to return the natural ground level.

You cant just use any old aggregate for RC foundations
Osage Wind dug large holes in the ground. This
process involved the extraction of
Larger rock pieces were then positioned ne

December 23, 2023 2:21 pm

Uh-OH! Someone at Enel forgot to pay-off the tribal elders! So, the tribal elders played the “sacred burial” card. I wonder just how many of these “sacred burial” sites are there? They sure seem to pop up all the time whenever it is convenient. This puts Liberals in an awkward position. Two of their pet causes, windmills and oppressed Indians at odds with each other. How is a good card-carrying Liberal supposed to virtue signal if he/she/it can’t decide which side is more virtuous?

Tom Halla
Reply to  Marty
December 23, 2023 6:11 pm

It is also that Enel violated the mining rights the tribe held, separate from the surface rights. The sand and aggregate were mined on land the Osage held rights to, and Enel did not pay the tribe for mining rights.

Rich Davis
Reply to  Tom Halla
December 24, 2023 9:54 am

Yes, I got that, but that implies that either Enel trespassed on nearby land to steal the minerals and use them on their own land or that Enel had rights to erect windmills on Osage land through some contract with the tribe but exceeded the terms of that agreement by stealing minerals.

If it’s the latter, that seriously undercuts the tribe’s case. How can they say that the windmills are objectionable if they previously agreed to lease the land for that purpose?

If minerals were stolen, typically there would be financial compensation due to the damaged party. If my contractor built my house with stolen lumber I don’t think any court would demand that my house be torn down.

Anybody who recognizes my name here knows how worthless I think windmills are, but something sounds fishy in this story.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Rich Davis
December 24, 2023 10:28 am

From the story, Enel had permission from the land owner, who did not have, however, the mining rights.
Real estate and mining law is a bit opaque.

Reply to  Tom Halla
December 24, 2023 1:11 pm

When does a foundation become a mine. The wind towers need heavy duty high strength concrete normally made in a commercial concrete batching plant and trucked to site

Rich Davis
Reply to  Tom Halla
December 24, 2023 1:26 pm

Yes, I missed that point, but then I think the analogy of a contractor building a house with a proper building permit but using stolen lumber would be the applicable analogy. What court would order that the house be torn down to compensate the lumber yard?

Considering that bird-shredders are sacred to the Greens and many millions of dollars are involved, it seems that this shaky ruling is unlikely to stand. The remedy doesn’t even address the alleged damages.

Reply to  Rich Davis
December 24, 2023 6:24 pm

They havent stolen anything, the excavated material in the 10ft deep by 60 ft diameter hole is returned to the ground to level it up. No need to take it anywhere. They have leased the land for the wind turbine structures from the legal owners . Apparently around 1906 the Osage reservation land was divided into mineral rights which remained with the tribal nation and and the surface was divided into individual title which was allocated to tribal individuals. Much has been onsold since then but the mineral rights held under Trust by the US for the tribal nation remain.

John Hultquist
Reply to  Marty
December 23, 2023 7:33 pm

Note the wording: “the Osage tribe, who believe in the sacredness of the place where the earth meets the sky

So it is not about burials, although on land once occupied by tribes there are numerous burial places with just a couple dozen graves.
There is a Yakama Nation site — still active — just one mile north of me.

Reply to  Marty
December 23, 2023 11:37 pm

That is really disrespectful and ignorant – did you even read what the article said? About the mining rights?

I wouldn’t need to have my kin buried on my land to have an excuse to shoo criminals off my property!

Reply to  PCman999
December 24, 2023 1:12 pm

The land owners gave permission.

Tom Halla
Reply to  Duker
December 24, 2023 1:18 pm

Mining and surface rights are separable. The Osage had mining rights.

Reply to  Tom Halla
December 24, 2023 6:35 pm

Yes. But ‘mining’ in this sense is just a figure of speech as it was an excavation to 10 ft for a large concrete foundation and the material excavated was returned to beneath the tower to give a similar ground contour

This is what the first District Court case found when US as trustee for the Osage Mineral rights holder – the tribe- went to court.

The first court case agaisnt the Wind project wasnt about mining at all, but that the construction of the towers would limit the extraction of oil and gas – this is OK after all- which was a pretty thincase as the towers only occupy a tiny part of the land leased by the wind project. They lost that augment.

At the core of the case the Osage just want a cut of the revenue, just like they do from oil and gas that they are happy to get This particular reservation was bought originally from the Cherokee nation by the Osage

Tom Halla
Reply to  Duker
December 24, 2023 6:46 pm

No subsurface rights means no subsurface rights, period.

Devils Tower
December 23, 2023 2:30 pm

So two greenie climate smucks make an anti-oil film, sure you know who I am talking about. But in the end, they will have how many wind turbines shoved up their …s in the disposal process.

Janice Moore
December 23, 2023 2:41 pm

“If I had the power, boom!, they’d be gone,”

ME, TOO! 😀

Bwah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, haaaaaaaaaaa!

Go, Osage People!

YAY!!!! Oh, yay! So happy. 😊

December 23, 2023 2:42 pm

Tremendous news.

December 23, 2023 2:53 pm

re: “Rome-based Enel”

‘Rome’ where?

Reply to  _Jim
December 23, 2023 2:57 pm

Rome Italy, _Jim.


Rud Istvan
December 23, 2023 2:56 pm

The Enel arrogance is staggering. Typical for EU greens. A just comeuppance victory for the Osage and their sacred eagles.

Sweet Old Bob
Reply to  Rud Istvan
December 23, 2023 5:23 pm

Will Enel be able to successfully appeal this decision ?

Rich Davis
Reply to  Sweet Old Bob
December 24, 2023 1:45 pm

Seems probable to me. You can’t build a house or grow crops without disturbing the surface. So if they’re claiming that the foundation constitutes a mine or trespass, that just doesn’t pass the smell test. It renders land (surface) rights moot.

If the damages done are limited to the value of stolen gravel used to mix concrete, the remedy of removing the otherwise-authorized bird shredder doesn’t address the damage done. The tribe has no ownership to the sacred space where the earth meets the sky.

Obviously I’d prefer to see the abominations torn down.

December 23, 2023 3:05 pm

84 Wind turbines must be removed! Where are they going to put all of that trash?


general custer
Reply to  Bob Tisdale
December 23, 2023 3:51 pm

They’re not trash, just second turbines. Surely it’s possible to move them to another location, how about Cambridge, MA or Sacramento, CA?

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  general custer
December 23, 2023 4:15 pm

on the MIT campus would be perfect- well half, and the other half in “Hah-vid Yard”

George B
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
December 24, 2023 5:59 am

I suggest an addition location in HAA- VUHD SQUAA.

Both MIT and The SQUAA are excellent locations.

Here is a great view from the Square

George B
Reply to  George B
December 24, 2023 6:09 am

I believe this was the law firm that represented Enel.
The Firm only hires Havard Law School graduates.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  George B
December 24, 2023 6:38 am

A friend studied law in Northeastern. He said a higher % of his class passed the bar than those from Hah-vid. Of course the Hah-vid crowd has better connections- which is apparently very important in “the law”.

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
December 24, 2023 11:18 am

As close to the dorms and library as possible.

My wife drug me along to a store that sold high end bathroom Vanities to get ideas about remolding the bathroom. They had a wind turbine at the far end of the parking lot. Within 15 minutes of being there the whoosh, woosh, gave me a splitting headache.

Reply to  general custer
December 23, 2023 11:41 pm

They’re old, small inefficient 2MW jobs from 10 years ago. Those 84 pinwheels could be replaced with 9 of the last-n-greatest (heard an 18MW turbine is ongoing testing).

general custer
Reply to  PCman999
December 24, 2023 5:29 am

In what way is a wind turbine of any output “inefficient”?

Reply to  general custer
December 24, 2023 9:22 am

In what way is a wind turbine of any output “inefficient”?

1) When the LCOE it produces is a factor of 2–5 times higher than that available from fossil fuel power plants.

2) When it provides electricity on a intermittent, unreliable basis 24/7/365.

3) When it actively kills large numbers of birds and bats, which is not its stated primary purpose.

4) When its large acoustic energy output is a clear indication of turbulence (i.e., aerodynamic inefficiency) being associated with its functioning.

Next question.

Reply to  ToldYouSo
December 24, 2023 11:31 am

5. When the total annual power required to operate all equipment inside the nacelle and used to generate power is greater than 50% of the gross power generated by the WT. Typically this would be greater than 15% of Name Plate rating.

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
December 23, 2023 6:55 pm

Obviously in somebody else’s back yard.

Reply to  Bob Tisdale
December 24, 2023 9:11 am

My top suggestions for re-location locations:
1) the lawn of the White House, and/or
2) dispersed among the green lawns and reflecting pool of the the National Mall, from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.

Such emplacements of all 84 wind turbines would both provide intermittent energy to the US Capitol as well as be a constant in-your-face reminder that virtue signaling often has noticeable visual and auditory impacts to those it is forced upon.

Joseph Zorzin
December 23, 2023 4:13 pm

“it also has handed Big Wind the biggest public relations debacle in its history”

let’s see if this story makes it to the MSM

December 23, 2023 4:14 pm

The score:

Tribes 1, Tax Credit Miners -1, Climate Change Scams 0

December 23, 2023 4:17 pm

Make them dismantle the wind farm without using equipment with CO2 emissions. Also, monitor and report on the disposal plan.

No one
December 23, 2023 4:30 pm

We saw an eagle the other day, could just make out the whites and browns soaring in the distance, like icing on a chocolate cake. Magnificent, just like this story.

Janice Moore
Reply to  No one
December 23, 2023 5:03 pm

Let FREEDOM (i.e., free market determining what energy we use) ring! 😀
comment image

Rud Istvan
Reply to  No one
December 23, 2023 5:10 pm

A remembrance. My Wisconsin dairy farm is less than 5 miles from the lower Wisconsin river. It never freezes fully over because of the swirls from its many sand bars. So the Missisippi Fly Way bald eagles tend to congregate there along the lower Wisconsin in dead winter, for good fishing after the Missippiee freezes over.
So, one very cold January weekend I am out by the heated Richie next to the winter horse shed, grooming our horses. They got skitisch for no reason. I looked up, and there was a mature Bald Eagle looking down from the big burr oak adjacent to the Ritchie.
Now, eagles do not prey on horses, even babies. But horses always worry about anything that might maybe prey on them. Is horse nature, taught me by my very horse whisperer. who learned from the original.
btw, if you have not seen the movie, go do. Yes it is Hollywood, but horse whisperers exist for real. I learned a lot from one. See that ear twitch. See that flank twitch. Now go up and hug gently. You will then be able to slip a halter over her neck because she now accepts you into her space!

John Hultquist
Reply to  Rud Istvan
December 23, 2023 7:47 pm

I took a 3-year old to a “Buck” Brannaman week of training. Then went to a few of his other events. Buck was the horse person that worked on that movie.
The moving true story of Buck Brannaman, Robert Redford’s horse whisperer, is a surprise hit at the American box office | Movies | The Guardian

Bill Parsons
Reply to  John Hultquist
December 23, 2023 10:58 pm

He has a good story. It’s still out there on Youtube.

Rick C
Reply to  Rud Istvan
December 23, 2023 8:37 pm

Yup – there are eagle watching sites in Prairie du Sac just below the hydroelectric dam where dozens of bald eagles congregate and fish all winter. The sites have binoculars and telescopes set up and are often manned by volunteer enthusiasts who are happy to answer questions about these magnificent birds.

John Hultquist
Reply to  No one
December 23, 2023 7:40 pm

A location would be nice for the eagle sighting.
I live in cattle country and when calving season begins
I often see 3 to 7 eagles per day. This is northeast of
Ellensburg, Washington State.

Reply to  No one
December 23, 2023 11:53 pm

White’s and browns? Like the one in my backyard eating a squirrel? Just another boring old day in Hamilton Ontario.

December 23, 2023 5:30 pm

Look to Enel to now declare bankruptcy to avoid the cost of removing these hideous contraptions.

Dumping the cost of the US taxpayer.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
Reply to  bnice2000
December 23, 2023 8:32 pm

Nope, the $149 billion corp may drop to $148 billion.

December 23, 2023 5:57 pm

I am confused. The complaints of the Osage people interviewed said they were mad about the eagles being killed. I wonder where they got all those nice feathers for the headdresses we see in old photos. Yet, they kicked out the windpower company based on illegal mining activity, which certainly is odd since they weren’t mining this area. Was there evidence they sold minerals or oil from this area? Not mentioned. All in all, another peculiar outcome in court.

Tom Halla
Reply to  joel
December 23, 2023 6:16 pm

They mined the sand and aggregate for the foundations on land the Osage had all mining rights to.

Joe Gordon
Reply to  joel
December 23, 2023 7:26 pm

Even Native Americans cannot just purchase eagle feathers from a vendor. There’s a national wildlife refuge where dead eagles are sent. With the proper forms, a tribe can request feathers for ceremonies and certain garments.

Most “eagle feathers” you see are artificial. Even if an eagle were killed by a turbine on their land, they would still have to have the carcass removed and it would be sent to this refuge.

The hypocrisy from the green crowd on this issue is amazing. This is our national symbol. Eagles are rare and protected. If you’ve ever seen one flying in the wild, it’s a memorable sight – one I hope future generations will enjoy.

Yet the greens don’t care one bit that their preferred source of temporary energy causes so much harm to the eagle population. We wouldn’t think of allowing hunting again. Yet they want a free pass because otherwise turbines might be banned entirely.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Joe Gordon
December 24, 2023 5:52 am

Yeah, it’s outrageous.

Reply to  joel
December 23, 2023 8:16 pm

I also found the article a bit confusing.

Were the wind turbines built on land for which the tribe held the mineral rights, but had sometime in the past sold the surface rights?

I don’t believe that wind farms have any power of imminent domain for the emplacement of turbines, so they must have had the permission of the surface owners?

If ENEL did have the correct surface rights, then they are just plain stupid to commit a trespass on the mineral rights! Aggregate is not an expensive item in Oklahoma. Even if not available in the immediate vicinity, it is easily shipped in mass quantity by rail.

Stupid AND greedy is a poor way to run a business. Sure hope it bites them in the wallet!

Reply to  joel
December 24, 2023 9:31 am

What is peculiar about your post is that you think that Indian tribes (indeed any US citizen) retain rights to exclusive use of their property only if they are actively exercising some/all of the rights inherent with such ownership.

Obviously, you’ve never owned any vacant land for very long.

December 23, 2023 6:00 pm

Why remove them if the complaint is illegal mining? That is over and done with. Why not give the tribe a cut from the wind farm revenues? This seems really dumb, like blowing up dams.

Tom Halla
Reply to  joel
December 23, 2023 6:17 pm

The Osage want the bird Cuisinarts gone. The minor little fact Enel violated property rights to build them is the rationale.

Reply to  joel
December 24, 2023 9:35 am

Why remove a homeless person who has sent up a tent on the front porch or lawn of your home . . . that is over and done with (your words).

December 23, 2023 6:18 pm

I’m confused.
Did Enel have permission to build the turbines but not permission to dig up a little limestone to construct the bases? It sounds like the Osage nation didn’t want the wind farm, so how did Enel get approval to build it?

Richard Page
Reply to  p0indexterous
December 23, 2023 7:56 pm

Enel built it on private land within the reservation boundary so had permission to build on the private land. However, because that private land was entirely within the reservation boundary, they still needed mining permits to dig up the rock for the foundations and were still subject to tribal rulings and regulations.

Reply to  p0indexterous
December 23, 2023 8:04 pm

I’d guess the tribe didn’t own the land, just the mineral rights as it referred to the lawyer whose family owned the surface rights and cashed in. My sister in law owns some oil holding property and the laws around mineral rights are confusing and frequently litigated.

Richard Page
Reply to  missoulamike
December 24, 2023 6:59 am

That’s about right I think. After the various tribes got relocated to the ‘Indian Territory’ they owned all the land and rights to each reservation. Some of the smaller tribes that were within a larger tribes reservation bought the land and full rights, becoming a reservation within a reservation – I think the Osage bought their reservation from the Cherokee. Most tribes divided the land between their people to own but kept the mineral rights, for example. Some time after that, parcels of land may have been sold outside the tribe as families moved away or married outside the tribe, but the mineral rights always stayed with the tribe.

December 23, 2023 6:40 pm

The Osage tribe’s victory over Enel provides more proof of the increasing opposition to wind energy from rural residents all over the world.

THAT’S an ambitious claim! The ‘proof’ wouldn’t exist if the Osage Nation were not a legally-favored body. Where else have local owners successfully sued in Federal courts to evict 84 sacred (to non-Indians) windmills?

Richard Page
Reply to  insufficientlysensitive
December 23, 2023 7:59 pm

Most of the time the wind farm developers are prevented from building due to local objections. Here the local objections were completely ignored in favour of the developer resulting in them having no choice but to sue for removal.

Len Werner
December 23, 2023 6:43 pm

12 years, using the start of the legal fight as an indicator–would these turbines be near end-of-life anyway?

Richard Page
Reply to  Len Werner
December 23, 2023 8:02 pm

No. Although Enel started building and mining before that, the turbines were only put up in 2014/15 – they were commissioned in 2015, so only 8 or 9 years old.

Dennis Gerald Sandberg
Reply to  Len Werner
December 23, 2023 8:37 pm

They’ve collected their 10 years of production tax credits, which probably explains why it got drug out so long.

Reply to  Dennis Gerald Sandberg
December 24, 2023 8:26 am

Now that what Enel did has been determined to be cause for removal can the citizens sue to get the tax credits clawed back?

December 23, 2023 6:53 pm

Justice doesn’t take twelve (12) years, only Fascist cronyism does (and the hockey stick).

Peter Barrett
December 24, 2023 1:11 am

If only, here in the UK, we had an indigenous population who could fight for their rights in this way. Hang on though ….

Richard Page
Reply to  Peter Barrett
December 24, 2023 7:03 am

Shush, stop talking right now. The closest thing in England to an indigenous population are the descendants of the Romano-British people that were mostly conquered by the Saxons.
Today they’re called ‘the Welsh’ – do you really want open that can of worms? ☺

Reply to  Richard Page
December 24, 2023 1:21 pm

Not so. Welsh have a genetic background largely similar to english. Some original celtic mixed with invaders and migrants. The Normans had conquered Wales like the rest of England. Having an older language doesnt make you ‘a tribe or clan’

December 24, 2023 2:18 am

For half the $100m price tag Enei could buy off the tribe purchase the mining rights.

Reply to  Redge
December 24, 2023 3:34 am

If they agreed to sell.

Reply to  Disputin
December 24, 2023 1:25 pm

They would be paid . Land rights have a stronger cultural association than mineral rights …this is Oklahoma where the mineral rights to oil and gas have been sold for over century.

If the turbines are removed at considerable cost the tribe has nothing. Since the surface land isnt theirs already they are just getting a novel legal argument that excavations are mining unless the contractor did dig a local gravel pit

general custer
December 24, 2023 5:48 am

As Kipling said, “East is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet”. In the US and other Anglo-thought places, the damages to the Osage are rectified monetarily. This is almost always the case when the offending party has the money required. The offending management could be fired but that’s not the normal outcome.

In the Orient, the decision-makers in such a situation are incarcerated as well. We see a parallel in the US with Bernile Madoff, Sam Bankman-Freid and Elizabeth Holmes. These three and others wouldn’t be faced with prison if they had the financial means for restitution. In China, Korea and Japan elite corruption means both restitution and prison. Enel president Venturini would already be in the joint if he’d pulled this kind of scam in an Asian country. Money is more important than good faith and honesty in the US.

Tom Abbott
December 24, 2023 5:56 am

Those windmills must be supplying someone with electricity. What happens to those customers? Maybe they can put up a natural gas plant as a substitute.

Reply to  Tom Abbott
December 24, 2023 8:26 am

Windmills intermittent. Gas plants continuous. Your choice.

December 24, 2023 9:00 am

Wow . . . you’re telling me, per the above article, that there is a chance—maybe just a slim one, but a chance nonetheless—that the “rule of law” may yet prevail over the “rule of money” in the United States?

Just WOW!

December 24, 2023 11:08 am

I would suggest transport and dumping in NY and MA.

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