The Osage Nation is against the development of large-scale wind farms in Osage County, Oklahoma, due to projected economic losses to the tribe and likely damage to the Tallgrass Prairie Reserve and its wildlife.
Chief John D. Red Eagle announced the tribe’s opposition on June 13, highlighting concerns about the impact of wind farms on the area’s oil and gas development. The Osage Nation owns the more than a million acres of the county’s mineral estate, reported NewsOn6, and the tribe draws more than $10 million a year in revenue from oil and gas production.
Two companies—Wind Capital Group of St. Louis, Missouri and TradeWind Energy of Lenexa, Kansas—plan to build wind farms in Osage County, and a third wind company, Invenergy, is looking at the wind potential in the county’s northwest corner.
“The areas being initially considered by the first two wind development companies cover approximately 30,000 acres and are located in a prime area for future oil and gas recovery,” Red Eagle said in a statement.
“They are talking about using an awful lot of ground,” Galen Crum, the chairman of the Osage Minerals Council, told the Tulsa World. “They weren’t thinking about the mineral estate—just about compensating landowners.”
Crum told the Tulsa World that wind leases last a half-century, and posed a good question: “How are we supposed to know the price of oil in 50 years?”
Both sides are trying to play the “green” card, with the wind companies touting clean energy and the Osage Nation promoting protection of the Tallgrass Prairie, “a true national treasure,” according to Red Eagle. “The last remnants of the Tallgrass Prairie run from Osage County northward, into northern Kansas and I believe that the Osage Nation must join others in its protection, restoration, and properly make use of the limited opportunities the prairie provides everyone, including its wildlife,” Red Eagle said in a statement.
The Nature Conservancy, which runs the preserve, has also agreed with the Osage Nation that wind turbines would scare away species like the Greater Prairie Chicken, reported NewsOn6.