Lawsuit Claims Osage Wind Project Is Breaking The Law
OSAGE COUNTY, Oklahoma - The United States Government wants construction of an Osage County wind farm stopped immediately.
The U.S. Department of Interior filed the suit late Friday, claiming Enel-Green Power, the company behind the project, is breaking the law by damaging and destroying rocks that belong to the Osage Nation.
The tribe owns all the mineral rights in Osage County, which, according to the lawsuit includes limestone, sand and gravel.
The court documents said the company is excavating sand, soil and rock, then crushing some of the materials to use as reinforcement for the concrete turbine foundations.
According to the lawsuit, Enel-Green Power will excavate more than 60,000 cubic yards of minerals, which the suit said is considered mining by law.
News On 6 spoke with Jeff Riles, the company's Regulatory Affairs director, hours before the suit was filed.
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He said construction isn't tapping into a mineral resource. Instead, Riles said, the work is similar to putting in a foundation for a home.
“We don't disturb the mineral estate, we certainly aren't mining, or doing anything like that, or taking any of the resources from beneath the surface of the earth and selling it or doing anything commercial we're doing traditional construction activities,” Riles said. “We are working very hard to make sure we have all of our 'i's' dotted and all of our 't's' crossed, making that every permit is properly filed.”
At least a dozen partially-complete turbines have popped up on the prairie of Osage County in the past few weeks.
The project is slated for 84.
11/17/2014 Related Story: Lone Turbine Stands Tall In Osage County
If a federal judge stops construction, the energy company would need a permit from the tribe to remove rocks, which could be a road block for the project.
Osage Nation has been fighting against the development from the beginning.