Despite rumors to the contrary, the Osage Minerals Council has not submitted a TERA application.
When asked point blank by members of the Osage Shareholders Association at its Nov. 15 quarterly meeting, Councilwoman Susan Forman acknowledged that the Osage Minerals Council’s task force has taken several steps toward potentially pursuing an agreement with the federal government about taking over some of the minerals estate’s management components.
But turning in an actual application is not one of those steps just yet.
“We have not filled out an (TERA) application,” she said. “We just did a pre-application, which says we are interested. That was done before we knew what the inherent federal functions are. We haven’t even gotten to that point.”
First approved in 2005, a tribal energy resource agreement 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.
Released in the Dec. 18 edition of the Federal Register, the updated 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.
Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear reiterated to the approximately 20 members in attendance that no decisions have been made yet, in part because they are still waiting on answers from the Bureau of Indian Affairs about staffing levels, both in positions that could be taken on by the Osage Nation and those that would remain with the federal government.
“We want to put BIA on notice that we’re coming,” he said. “The BIA needs to provide us all info they have on what positions they have, which ones are unfunded, what’s going on in Muskogee and what’s going on in Pawhuska. We need that information.”
Thanks to the ongoing pandemic, the group is meeting entirely via Zoom. Its next quarterly meeting is scheduled for Feb. 15, 2021, although the possibility of additional Zoom tutorials in the interim are a possibility in order to facilitate participation among members.
“A lot of our members are tech challenged,” OSA President Julie Malone said. “I don’t really know how to overcome that.”