The Osage Minerals Council still has not determined whether to pursue a TERA but is expecting additional information in 2021 to help shape the decision-making process.
Speaking at the Osage Minerals Council’s Dec. 16 meeting, consultant Jim Trumbly said the task force charged with researching the nuts and bolts of a TERA has drafted an organizational chart and determined how many jobs would potentially be impacted.
“I think we’re seeing a lot of movement,” he said. “We are not far away from drawing up and drafting an application.”
First approved in 2005, a Tribal Energy Rights 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.
The task force has identified 44 total positions needed to sufficiently support a TERA should the Minerals Council decide to pursue such an agreement. Of those 44, 26 are positions that are currently under the Bureau of Indian Affairs that would need to move over to the tribe. The remaining 18 are new positions that would need to be formally created across a range of areas, including information technology, petroleum engineering, accounting and auditing.
Trumbly said an information request is still pending with Osage Nation Human Resources for pay scales used by the tribe for comparable positions to help determine both the start-up and ongoing costs of supporting those 44 hypothetical employees, including salary, benefits, equipment and office space requirements.
Despite reassurances that the task force has been making progress, at least one councilor made it clear that as far as he is concerned, the Osage Minerals Council can not move fast enough to get leasing operations away from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, even if it means having the Osage Nation’s Office of Self-Governance enter into a compact.
“We need to quit slow walking this thing,” Councilor Talee Redcorn said. “We need to get these items over to the nation and start exercising our sovereignty. This is critical. The BIA is ruining our reservation. They don’t care. They’re not involved and they don’t have any stake in this.”