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Earth Power Politics

Osage Oppose Wind Power At Tallgrass Prairie 147

Posted by timothy
from the shooting-the-breeze-is-more-efficient dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "The Tulsa World reports that Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle of the Osage Nation says the tribe, although not opposed to alternative energy development in general, has found significant reasons to oppose wind farms on the tallgrass prairie, 'a true national treasure' whose last small fragments remain only in Osage County and in Kansas. The Osage County wind farms would not be built in the Nature Conservancy's Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, located northeast of Ponca City, but would be visible from it and Preserve Director Bob Hamilton has urged the county and the state to steer wind development to areas of the county that are not ecologically sensitive. 'Not all areas in the Osage are sensitive,' says Hamilton. 'What makes the tallgrass prairie so special is its big landscape. It's not just local — it has global significance.' The Osage also fear that large wind farms will interfere with extracting oil and gas, from which royalties are paid in support of tribal members as the Osage retain their tribal mineral rights owned in common by members of the tribe. 'They weren't thinking about the mineral estate — just about compensating landowners,' says Galen Crum, chairman of the tribal Minerals Council. 'How are we supposed to know the price of oil in 50 years?'"
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Osage Oppose Wind Power At Tallgrass Prairie

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  • Environmentalists (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Knave75 (894961)
    Good to know that the noble natives are still the stalwart guardians of nature and the environment. Mining companies come and go, but a windmill will stain the land forever.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Good to know that the noble natives are still the stalwart guardians of nature and the environment. Mining companies come and go, but a windmill will stain the land forever.

      Huh? Why would a windmill be more permanent than a well head?

      • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross AT yahoo DOT ca> on Saturday June 18, 2011 @08:13AM (#36484726)

        He was being cynical! The chief is being a bit of an idiot! They think that the windmills destroy the "special" grass, but hey if oil and gas companies want to dig and drill that's OK!

        Ok me being cynical! No wonder they bleeding lost the wars! Wanna make a bet the windfarm will be more valuable in 50 years than some oil or gas...

        • Re:Environmentalists (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Splab (574204) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @08:30AM (#36484806)

          Oil and gas can be drilled from "far" away - windmill on the other hand tend to stick out; and in great numbers.

          • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @09:02AM (#36484966) Homepage Journal

            Drilling derricks can be visible from far away too. Once the derrick is done, the well pumps dot the landscape too, they aren't tall, but every well will get a pump. It seems like their second core objection is that windmills will reduce the market value of the fossil fuels they own. I really don't think that argument has merit. For one, oil is not used for grid power generation. Natural gas is used for power generation, but such an argument from one group to deny another group's ability to compete like that is just silly.

            I really don't get the cultural objection to seeing windmills, I don't get why it's such an effective blocking force. Cities might not have skyscrapers if landowners from miles away can block them from being built, in the same way this argument is used to stop windmills from being built.

            • Drilling derricks can be visible from far away too.

              Yeah, but they get a cut from the oil.

            • I don't get the objection to seeing windmills either, but I do get the objection to making access roads for windmills through endangered habitat. It should be the same argument against oil drilling though if that is the argument.
            • You would think that windmills are more distasteful than goatse. The fact that they are rejecting this is truly disgraceful. I'm not singling them out. It's representative of all people.

              I don't understand why it is not perceived as elegant, modern, and clean.

              • by Splab (574204)

                Then you haven't been living next to them.

                From far away, they look peaceful and elegant, up close they are massive and make a lot of noise.

            • by Raenex (947668)

              It seems like their second core objection is that windmills will reduce the market value of the fossil fuels they own. For one, oil is not used for grid power generation. Natural gas is used for power generation, but such an argument from one group to deny another group's ability to compete like that is just silly.

              That's not their argument, at least not the way you are making it out to be. It's an issue of access to minerals, not market price being affected by windmills. From the article:

              "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's statement says.

              Galen Crum, chairman of the tribal Minerals Council, whose job it is to protect the mineral estate, said that the council has met with two wind companies planning on erecting about 200 turbines on the prairie.

              "They are talking about using an awful lot of ground," Crum said. "They weren't thinking about the mineral estate - just about compensating landowners.

              Crum said wind leases last a half-century.

              "How are we supposed to know the price of oil in 50 years?" [..] Crum said the area is home to many active and plugged wells, some ripe for reopening as the price of oil rises and new technology makes extraction more efficient.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Better watch them wind spills!

      They'll pollute your aquifers, unlike tasty petroleum mixed with fracking cocktails.

  • Figures (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @07:41AM (#36484596) Homepage

    The Osage also fear that large wind farms will interfere with extracting oil and gas, from which royalties are paid in support of tribal members as the Osage retain their tribal mineral rights owned in common by members of the tribe.

    There's looking out for the environment and there's looking out for number one. Now we know where they stand.

    • by FudRucker (866063)
      you can say that again, the natives in Oklahoma rake in gobs of cash in the Indian Casinos on the sides of the major highways going through the state, the natives are the richest demographic in the state...
      • and a lot of other stuff for the poor people in the tribe.

        just because you are native doesn't make you automatically rich.

        please just stop talking about stuff you don't understand.

        • by FudRucker (866063)
          i live in oklahoma and have since 1980, i have friends that are native americans, so i know the people, and it proves one thing thats for sure, and that is native americans are no better and no more benevolent than anyone else, = the rich & powerful indians like to stay rich and powerful indians and ignore the needs of the rest of their people...
    • Re:Figures (Score:5, Insightful)

      by purpledinoz (573045) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @08:18AM (#36484752)
      I don't understand why they can't do both: extract oil and gas, and put up wind farms.
      • by green1 (322787)

        Because the planned wind farm wasn't going to give them a penny, the oil and gas though lines their pockets nicely.

        The environmental claims are just a smoke screen for their greed.

        • by KDR_11k (778916)

          They could just build their own, the windmills aren't so expensive or heavily regulated that a small community can't build their own.

          • by green1 (322787)

            Why build your own when you can get others to do the building, while you do the earning?
            They didn't have to spend a penny or lift a finger to get the oil and gas revenues, they want the same deal with the wind power.

      • by couchslug (175151)

        They can. There is nothing about either tech which interferes with the other.

        Cast aside romantic notions about Native Americans. Losing a war doesn't make them better then those smart enough to beat them, and greed is universal.

        • by Pharmboy (216950)

          Look at Cherokee Casino if you want to see hypocritical attitudes. First, gambling was wrong, but then it was ok if it was only "games of skill" not "games of chance", so they installed "lock and roll" slots, which are still not exactly games of skill. Ok, that made money, so they just put in real slots. Then they put in digital 21 and poker. Finally, they now serve "firewater". My ancestors were native to America (Cherokee and Apache). That doesn't change the fact that most of the governments of the

    • There's looking out for the environment and there's looking out for number one. Now we know where they stand.

      I'm actually impressed. Who else is this honest? Most people wouldn't mention the oil and gas, just the environmental impact. Whether or not I agree with them, I respect the straightforwardness.
    • Re:Figures (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ultranova (717540) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @09:33AM (#36485102)

      There's looking out for the environment and there's looking out for number one.

      Looking out for the environment is looking out for number one, unless you'd rather live in Mordor.

      Now we know where they stand.

      Firmly in the NIMBY camp, the same as pretty much everyone else. And since windmills require a lot of land - a lot of people's backyards - to produce significant amounts of power, this is yet another reason why renewable energy isn't a viable alternative to nuclear.

      • You might ask the neighbors of the fukishima plant in japan how having a nuclear plant in their backyard worked out.

        • I don't normally consider people 35 kilometers away my neighbors.

          But Fukishima was a very sharing neighbor.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Weird. I lived near a place where they were actively developing wind farms in Canada. The local farmers were competing to literally have windmills located in their back yards.

      • Go ask a banker or government about nuclear to get an idea of where commercial nuclear really stands. Large scale nuclear power is going to dwindle away to nothing because there is no financial driving force and no political driving force. It's only hope is a major breakthrough that will make it commercially viable or far less capital intensive. Something out of China or India may produce that, but for the US the only advances that have happened over the last three decades came from a corporate buyout th
        • Would you really want to use a nuclear plant built in a country known for exporting children's toys with lead paint and dog food that killed pets? Nuclear is NOT something you want done by the lowest bidder (especially a one out of China).

          Disclaimer: I have nothing against the Chinese people, just the quality of their exports.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        And since windmills require a lot of land

        Wait, stop. Windmills require almost no land. They take up little postage-sized pieces of dirt in the middle of vast tracts of land that is usually being used to graze cattle if it's being used for anything at all. They're complaining about being able to see windmills not on their land but from it. And to them, I say that is bullshit.

        • by ultranova (717540)

          Wait, stop. Windmills require almost no land. They take up little postage-sized pieces of dirt in the middle of vast tracts of land that is usually being used to graze cattle if it's being used for anything at all.

          A windmill takes up a little postage-sized piece of dirt. It also produces almost no power, and even that only randomly. Windmills in sufficient qualities to produce a significant portion of an industrial society's power needs, their grid connections, and the storage systems to work around the r

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            if that land is located in the middle of nowhere, you need even more windmills to cover the transmit losses.

            We lose less than 5% of all of our power in transmission. When people start spewing figures about transmission loss they are including conversion.

            You don't have storage systems to work around the psuedorandom power output on the same site as the wind farm. That's what the grid is for.

            • by ultranova (717540)

              We lose less than 5% of all of our power in transmission. When people start spewing figures about transmission loss they are including conversion.

              We lose less than 5% of power now, when power plants pretty much immediately convert to high voltage. You can't do this with windmills, because a high-voltage line is far more expensive to erect than a low-voltage one, and most wind farms aren't going to be anywhere near the size of a normal power plant, which means you need far more of them.

              You don't have storag

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Are you surprised? There's this persistent idea that aboriginal people, and native Americans in particular, were such great caretakers of the environment. The truth is that as soon as they acquired the means to significantly affect their environments they did so, just like the rest of us, from helping drive the mammoth to extinction to cutting down all the trees on Easter island.

  • by gdshaw (1015745) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @07:41AM (#36484598) Homepage

    Wind power has some serious drawbacks, but the fact that it might stop you from extracting oil is not one of them.

    • This is the part that I don't understand either. Who's saying that, and why are they saying it? It makes no sense. I couldn't get through to the main article, so all I have to go on is the summary.

  • by houghi (78078) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @07:51AM (#36484630)

    Just don't put it where I can see it.

    I hate these kind of people.

    In the Netherlands there were (are) people against the windmills for energy. I suppose they want Kinderdijk [raymonds.com] to be burned down.

    In Belgium they were against a wind-farm out on sea, because it MIGHT spoil their view of their apartment blocks that ruined the Belgian coast for the rest of us.

    Energy will be a AND/AND solution. We can't rely on just one source, we need many. Wind power is one of them.

    • What I don't get is what is so damn wrong with a view of wind turbines. Maybe I'm just weird or something, but I think they're beautiful. The fact that they give us (almost) free energy should be a win for everybody.
    • There is just one argument in favor of people wanting them far away: windmills make lots of noise [wvmcre.org]... of course I would an honest study on this as, for example, I live a mile away from a major airport and I have no troubles with the airplanes although they make more noise then windmills...
    • by timeOday (582209)

      Give me alternative energy...Just don't put it where I can see it. I hate these kind of people.

      Of course, everybody is jumping immediately to the conclusion they're wrong in this case, and that nobody should ever object to any site for windmills, or else all environmentalists are hypocrites. That's not logical. Being in favor of wind power doesn't mean you have to be in favor of putting them everywhere, there are still better and worse places, and aesthetics are one perfectly valid consideration. J

    • by KDR_11k (778916) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @11:36AM (#36485744)

      Seriously, idiots. The windmills don't look that bad, you'll quickly get used to appreciating the sight.

  • Hugh must be related to T.Boone [wikipedia.org].

  • I agree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BurfCurse (937117) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @08:03AM (#36484680)
    What makes these tall grass prairie reserves so special is that they are one of a few places in the plains where you can look across a piece of land and see what it looked like before we completely transformed everything. I personally don't think that windmills are ugly at all an I'm all for it in the midwest. But if you place a windmill farm within sight of the prarie, this feeling of it being untouched will be lost.
    • Re:I agree (Score:4, Insightful)

      by slackbheep (1420367) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @08:11AM (#36484714)
      And this isn't a problem with oil, gas or mineral developments? As per TFA: "The Osage also fear that large wind farms will interfere with extracting oil and gas, from which royalties are paid." They're willing to accept damage to the environment, on the condition they're paid.
      • by BurfCurse (937117)
        And my comment made no mention of the Osage.
      • Simple really (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Shivetya (243324)

        Wind farms take up an enormous amount of area for the power they generate compared to other sources of energy. Oil fields can get by with one pumping area in many cases and by law most are limited to their foot print. Then besides having all those towers someone has to maintain the access between each tower, usually a road, maintain the lines connecting each, and to top it off you get to hear them all day and night long. Currently there are many regulations governing what protections must be maintained for

    • Part of the reason why it's so special is the fact that we've destroyed every other area of the world with mining, oil and gas extraction, agriculture and pollution. Windmills are part of the solution to that, and in the long term may help restore other areas to that condition. We should be caring more about the actual quality of our environment instead of focusing on how good it makes us feel to have one last place that is visually untouched (as opposed to [actually] untouched)

    • But if you place a windmill farm within sight of the prarie, this feeling of it being untouched will be lost.

      Sorry that feeling is already lost. As I've actually traveled around the Flint Hills (further north than this proposed wind farm) you'll find the previous centuries oil rush junk abandoned everywhere. That and the power lines crisscrossing the landscape further spoils the view.

      I've found the view of vast grasslands dotted with giant windmills rather attractive. Here is a picture I took from the Beaumont wind farm:

      http://www.howardedin.com/test/20081108_MG_1149.jpg [howardedin.com]

      Thats about 150 miles north of the Os

      • Re:I agree (Score:4, Interesting)

        by brentrad (1013501) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @03:19PM (#36486760)
        I find them rather nice looking. We have large tracts of windmills in sections of northeastern Oregon - in areas of flat grassland much like the area being discussed in this article. Driving by the windmills in Oregon, I think they're quite pretty. Maybe it's just the knowledge of how they help the environment that makes them look nice to me.

        Granted, there are no installations of windmills anywhere near my house in the Portland area (this area doesn't have the sustained winds and lack of high trees that the northeast area of Oregon has), so maybe I'd feel different if they were in my backyard - but I'd like to think I'd be OK with it. I'd definitely be OK with putting wind farms off the coast of Oregon, which is being discussed, along with tidal power farms. Come on people, it's not like very much of this country is "untouched" any more. I love to get out in the wilderness and camp and canoe, but planes do fly over still. You really can't get away from civilization completely.

        I'm all for preserving natural ecosystems, but they're not talking about building the windmills IN the Osage preserve, the objections are that the windmills are VISIBLE from the preserve. Come on - turn around and look the other direction if you don't like seeing the windmills. If we want to get off oil and coal, we need to get away from this NIMBY attitude.

        I also don't see the problem with building windmills AND going for the gas and oil underneath. It's not like building a windmill forever ruins the land underneath. If you decide later to mine, just remove the windmill and mine.
    • you can see horse barns, oil heads, etc. they have had to buy patches of land from prior landowners to create the preserve, its still in the middle of a bunch of cattle ranches and oil leases. the whole thing about 'pristine view' is kind of silly.

  • Hypocrisy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Krakadoom (1407635) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @08:42AM (#36484852)
    Everyone loves wind power, as long as the mills aren't located anywhere near themselves. This is the story every time a project is planned. Besides it's not like you can't just dismantle a windmill, it's not like strip mining that leaves permanent scars. If the world is ever to get serious about leaving oil dependencies behind people are going to have to take the good with the bad.

    Personally I love seeing windmills on our coastline and I feel good every time I look at them. They are a MUCH nicer view than the smokestack from a coal plant...
    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >>Everyone loves wind power, as long as the mills aren't located anywhere near themselves

      Yep. Eco-friendly Ted Kennedy sued to block windmills going up near his estate.

      Hell, the DC lawyers that worked against NIMBY lawsuits on windmills filed a NIMBY lawsuit when they found out that windmills were going to go up near their farm in backwater Virginia.

      The hypocrites come out of the woodwork. It's always "we like wind power, just not here". We seriously need to restructure how these sorts of lawsuits can

  • What's "NIMBY" in the Osage tongue?

  • In 50 years, they won't need to worry about the price of oil. They would be better off honing their traditional skills once again.
  • "not opposed to alternative energy development in general"

    Ah yes, the classic bullshit qualifier. Sort of like when people start their sentences with, "I'm not a racist, but..."

  • by Nihn (1863500)
    It has nothing to do with "the landscape" and everything to do with the "royalties" paid to a group of people who are not wanting to work for a living. People who try to use ascetics as an excuse for anything should never be taken seriously. They don't want a power source that doesn't pay them cash, what benefit would they gain from a clean renewable power source. Keep the drills running, keep poisoning the ground water and slowly killing the environment thru toxic revenge. It will keep the place "LOOKING"
  • by yodleboy (982200) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @10:33AM (#36485446)
    i'm getting tired of hearing people protest energy projects because they are "visible from . this was also one of the arguments against the ivanpah solar facility and is also thrown at homeowners that want to place solar panels. Everyone is for green energy as long as they don't have to look at it I guess.
    • by brentrad (1013501)
      I would love to see solar installations on every building. I'd install them on my roof if I could afford it currently. What, solar panels are uglier than asphalt shingles?
  • by westlake (615356) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @11:48AM (#36485810)
    Osage County has an area of 2,304 square miles. (5,967 km)

    It is the most populous (44,000) and the second-largest geographically (to Corson County, South Dakota) of the six U.S. counties that lie entirely within an Indian reservation. Osage County, Oklahoma [wikipedia.org]

    The Tallgrass Prairie Preserve is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy.

    It is protected as the largest tract of remaining tallgrass prairie in the world. The preserve contains 39,000 acres (160 km2) owned by the Conservancy and another 6,000 acres (24 km2) leased in what was the original tallgrass region of the Great Plains that stretched from Texas to Manitoba.

    The tallgrass prairie owes its existence to fire, whether caused by lightening or manmade. Without fire, the prairie quickly becomes brushland. The Indians were aware of this and burned the prairie regularly to nurture new growth of succulent grasses and to kill intrusive trees and shrubs. The Nature Conservancy has continued this practice with a process called "patch burning" in which about one-third of the prairie is burned each year.

    Prior to its purchase by the Nature Conservancy in 1989, the preserve was called the Barnard Ranch which had been part of the Chapman-Barnard ranch of 100,000 acres (400 km2).

    Tallgrass Prairie Preserve [wikipedia.org]

    The tall grass can be ten feet high.

    The geek has no sense of distance or scale as the westerner understands it. The view the Osage wants to protect is a tiny fraction of its holdings ---

    and there nothing the like of it to be found anywhere else on earth.

  • freeze in the dark. See what I care.
  • As a person who has visited this fantastic preserve on several occasions, I cannot think of a worse place for the tree huggers to setup their moronic windmills. Of all of the desolate and remote lands on the high plains why would they pick the tiny percentage that is a true national treasure? If there were a site worthy of being a prairie national it would be in the Osage Hills of Oklahoma and Kansas. The same line of reasoning goes for the stupid, wasteful Cape Winds project off of Cape Cod, were the lefti
  • If you leave any younglings alive, shall they not avenge?

    If you're going to be the Empire, be the Empire. Don't leave any of them alive. Not. One. Single. Bothan.

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