Environment | Trust

NPR: Osage Nation disputes wind development on mineral estate






Leaders of the Osage Nation Minerals Council were sworn into office in July. Photo from Osage News / Flickr

Leaders and members of the Osage Nation are questioning wind energy projects in northeastern Oklahoma out of fear it could affect their mineral rights:
Wind farms are common in western parts of the state, but they're new to the northeast region. There has always been some local resistance from residents who don't want their views ruined by spinning turbines, but Oklahoma's wind energy debate is magnified in Osage County. That's the slice of prairie that Joe Bush and the nature preserve share.

Osage County is also home to a powerful opponent of wind farm development.

"The site is the problem," says Everett Waller, a tribal leader with the Osage Nation. "It's not the alternate energy, the wind energy, anything of that fact."

While the tribe is worried that wind farm construction could hurt wildlife and disturb native remains and artifacts, one of its biggest concerns is oil.

While many nontribal residents — like Bush — own land in Osage County, the tribal members own most of the mineral rights.

Waller says aboveground wind farms could block drilling and pumping the oil and gas below ground.

"I have a job as chairman of the minerals council to protect my shareholders," Waller says. "This is a business. We're in the oil business."

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