Minerals Council

Broadband projects stall after burying beetle discovered in EA

TULSA, Okla. — The rural broadband project for the Grayhorse and Bowring communities has encountered an insect-sized delay.  

At Osage LLC’s Aug. 28 board of directors meeting, Quality Control Officer Molly Franks confirmed that although the company has closed on the necessary property purchases to move forward with the broadband project for the Grayhorse community, environmental assessments for the proposed line showed that it would disturb the habitat for the American Burying Beetle.

The largest of North America’s carrion beetles, the American Burying Beetle has been on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services endangered species list since 1988.

Assessments for the proposed line for a similar project serving the Bowring community also came back positive for the American Burying Beetle.

Although Franks reassured the board that the project should still be completed before grant funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture expires, she also made it clear that the budget proposal originally submitted would probably have to be modified to account for the mitigation costs associated with the new discovery.

“We’re in the process of reviewing the budget,” she said.

“If we have to request an extension, it would be because of circumstances completely beyond our control, like this.”       

Meanwhile, the company is considering looking to the skies in the coming future to further build out its portfolio pending results of its July audit by Moss Adams.  

With more than 1,100 aerospace entities within Oklahoma, it is the state’s second largest industry behind oil and gas production. The tribe’s executive branch has previously suggested the possibility of pursuing drone contracts, but board members made it clear that they would like to look at other airborne revenue streams as well.

“We’re within 6-10 miles of a huge aerospace hub,” board member Rick Perrier said. “If we can find a way to tie into that, that’d be a great opportunity.

“I just don’t see a lot of money in the drone idea. Just today, 400 new jobs were announced over at American Airlines, which impacts all of its support companies. The potential is there.”