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Supreme Court won't review wind farm case

Source: 
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The Osage Minerals Council won a major legal victory Monday, Jan. 7, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to review a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit concerning an Osage County windfarm case.

The U.S. Supreme Court let stand the Tenth Circuit's decision in September 2017 in favor of the Osage Minerals Council. The Minerals Council issued a news release Monday, summarizing the issues in the case and the importance of the Supreme Court's decision not to take the case.

The Osage Mineral Council said in its news release that defendants Osage Wind, LLC and Enel Green Power North America, Inc. "built the windfarm on top of the OMC's mineral estate, but had failed to obtain a lease from the OMC."

"The Tenth Circuit determined that defendants actions violated federal regulations which are designed to protect the OMC's property rights," the OMC said. "The defendants disregarded the OMC's authority over the Osage Reservation when they proceeded with their windfarm project without first obtaining a federally approved lease from the OMC."

The OMC was initially represented in the case by the U.S. government, acting as the OMC's trustee. When the federal government lost at the U.S. District Court level in Oklahoma, it decided not to appeal.

The OMC then appealed the District Court's decision with the assistance of the Fredericks Peebles & Morgan law firm, which is dedicated to representing American Indian tribes and Native American organizations.

Everett Waller, OMC chairman, issued a brief statement Monday as part of the OMC's news release.

"Enel's decision to build a windfarm on our land without our approval caused substantial damage to the OMC," Waller said. "We are pleased that the United States Supreme Court has left in place the Tenth Circuit decision that the OMC, like other property owners, has the right to obtain compensation for use of its land. It is a substantial victory for tribes, and more generally for mineral property rights owners."

See the Journal-Capital's next print edition, Jan. 9, for more details about this case.

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