Minerals Council

Federal Judge rules in favor of Minerals Council in case against wind companies

Photo caption: Employees for Osage Wind work on a base of a wind turbine along Highway 60, just west of Pawhuska. Osage Wind dug pits measuring 60 feet wide and 30 feet deep. Osage News 2014 File Photo

TULSA — A federal judge recently ruled in favor of the Osage Minerals Council in the ongoing case United States v. Osage Wind LLC.

On May 21, Judge Gregory Frizzell with the Northern District of Oklahoma again sided with the United States and the minerals council against Osage Wind, LLC; Enel Kansas, LLC; and Enel Green Power North America, Inc. The three companies filed partial objections to the discovery process a Magistrate Judge had set forth in the case. Frizzell wrote the judge committed no error.

“… the Partial Objections to Magistrate Judge’s Opinions and Orders … of defendants Osage Wind, LLC; Enel Kansas, LLC; and Enel Green Power North America, Inc. are overruled, and Osage Wind’s request that this court revisit reverse portions of the Magistrate Judge’s Opinions and Orders … is denied,” Frizzell wrote in his opinion.

In 2017, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals held that mining had occurred within the mineral estate when the companies built 84 wind turbines along Highway 60, just north of Fairfax. Mining within the mineral estate requires a lease approved by the council and the Secretary of the Interior.

This newest ruling comes after Frizzell sided with the council in a Jan. 11 order and granted a motion for judgment on the pleadings to prohibit the wind companies from raising five specific defenses based on Oklahoma law rather than federal law in January. Frizzell noted that state laws do not automatically apply to the federal government when acting as a trustee and that the state of Oklahoma never had jurisdiction over the mineral estate.

Osage Minerals Council Chairman Everett Waller declined to comment.