Community , Minerals Council

OMC sends ODOT proposal to ON Attorney General for review

The Osage Minerals Council is not quite ready to sign off on an agreement with ODOT that would facilitate road construction projects across Osage County.    

At its Nov. 14 meeting, the council voted 5-3 to reject a proposed memorandum of understanding with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation regarding sandy soil leases on highway construction projects.

As written, ODOT would pay a one-time royalty fee for each excavation project, regardless of the site’s size. ODOT representatives at the meeting confirmed that until an MOU is in place, all Osage County road projects are frozen.

“This needs to be reworked,” Councilwoman Margo Gray said. “I appreciate my colleague’s comments … but we just got this last night. I don’t think another 30-45 days will make that much of a difference.”

Along with Gray, councilors Marsha Harlan, Susan Forman, Paul Revard and Talee Redcorn voted to reject the MOU as proffered.

Citing a lack of in-state legal counsel, the members voted 7-1 to instead send the proposal to the Office of the Attorney General for further review. Chairman Everett Waller cast the lone no vote.

“I’m not willing to sell out the shareholders for a really, really bad agreement,” Councilwoman Harlan said. “We’re sitting without a lawyer – and y’all don’t pay me enough to do your legal readings – but this is a very poor agreement.”

Along with a lack of time to review the proposal, several members of the council’s freshman class took issue with the language used – and not used – in the proposal.

“There is a lot missing in this contract,” Councilwoman Susan Forman said. “You don’t have notice dates for terminations and payments. There’s no late payment fee language. You don’t establish a time for us to receive payments. You mention other payments that we’re not entitled to – I’d like to know what those are.

“We need a lot more detail.”

Although the council does not have a local attorney, it has still retained the services of Denver-based Fredericks, Peebles and Morgan for its pending litigation over 84 turbines built in Osage County without a mining permit from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Chairman Waller prefaced the Nov. 14 meeting with a statement referring to the Denver firm and its role in the council’s ongoing court case with Enel. In May, the U.S. Supreme Court asked the Office of the Solicitor General to file a brief in the matter on behalf of the federal government after the 10th Circuit Court sided with the Minerals Council. To date, it has not done so. 

“We rejected their first offer,” he said of Enel. “On the advice of our attorney, I will not field any questions on the Enel suit. If it has to do with our Supreme Court case, it can wait.” 

Meanwhile, plans continue to take shape for the Osage Oil and Gas Summit, which is scheduled for Dec. 12-13 at Osage Casino Tulsa. Registration is open with seats starting at $75 for shareholders and $150 for all other attendees.

Thirty-eight tracts have been nominated for the event’s lease sale, scheduled for 10 a.m. on Dec. 12. The lease sale is open to the public.