The Osage Minerals Council is taking a preliminary step toward potentially pursuing an energy agreement with the federal government.
At its Jan. 3 meeting, the council voted unanimously to authorize Chairman Everett Waller to co-sign a joint letter with Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear to begin the consultation process for a tribal energy resource agreement.
“This is only the process in which we ask the United States government to help us review this process,” Waller said.
The council also formally gave Waller the green light to meet with the executive and legislative branches to brief them on the pre-application process associated with pursuing a TERA. A similar resolution was passed at the Dec. 18 meeting to schedule a meeting with Congress’ Land, Commerce and Economic Development.
Released in the Dec. 18 edition of the Federal Register, the new TERA regulations lay out parameters for tribes to pursue self-governance agreements for some or all of the services associated with energy development, including oil and gas drilling.
First approved in 2005, a TERA between a tribe and the Department of Interior allows a tribe to review, approve and manage leases, business agreements and rights of way for energy development on tribal land without having to go through the Secretary of Interior every step of the way.
Although the council is looking at the pre-application process, it is not a done deal that it will pursue a TERA. The regulations still do not spell out which functions tribes will be allowed to potentially take over and which ones will remain strictly with the Department of Interior.
“I’m surprised it’s not out already,” OMC attorney Wilson Pipestem said. “Whether your interest is in solar, wind or minerals, all of Indian Country needs to know what those inherent federal functions are.”