Grounds for Dispute: Expert, Landowner Sound off on Osage County Mineral Management
Tuttle, D Ray, THE JOURNAL RECORD
Eliminating the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Osage County would be the best thing for oil and gas production, an official with the Environmentally Friendly Drilling Project said.
"Doing away with the BIA would work wonders for this state," said Thomas Williams, senior adviser to the Environmentally Friendly Drilling Project.
The nonprofit EFP is a group of companies, universities and laboratories that studies technologies to reduce the footprint of drilling activities.
"Our consortium looks to identify cost-effective technologies that can reduce the environmental footprint of a well pad," Williams said. "We work with groups like the Environmental Defense Fund, the Nature Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited to promote best practices."
Williams will address the Osage Tribe Negotiated Rulemaking Committee in Pawhuska on Wednesday. A winter storm delayed meetings originally scheduled for Monday. Meetings, made up of BIA officials, members of the Minerals Council of the Osage Nation and Bureau of Land Management officials, are held once a month.
The BLM oversees all mineral rights of the nation's tribes except in Osage County, said Paul McGuire, BLM spokesman for Oklahoma.
"The Bureau of Land Management's role in oil and gas drilling for Indian minerals is to review the permit to drill, make sure it is sound and review any cultural and environmental issues that might be involved," McGuire said.
Once a project is approved, the BLM is responsible for ensuring that developers and operators comply with rules. Although the Bureau of Indian Affairs issues mineral leases on Indian lands, the BLM approves and supervises mineral operations on these lands, McGuire said.
Following an 11-year court battle, the Osage Nation reached a $380 million settlement with the federal government in 2011 over mismanagement of the $4 billion Osage oil and gas estate.
As part of the settlement, both sides agreed to improve the trust management of the Osage mineral estate.
Since last August there has been an attempt to rewrite the Code of Federal Regulations Title 25, Part 226 - Leasing of Osage Reservation Lands for Oil and Gas Mining. In public meetings, the committee has focused on these federal rules, also called CFRs.
Many of the rules are anywhere from 40 years to 60 years old, Williams said. …