Osage Ranchers Call for Better Drilling Regulations

Mar 15, 2013

An oil drilling site near Skiatook Lake leaks on the surface.
Credit Courtesy OCCA

Landowners and ranchers in Osage County are calling for better regulations on oil and gas drilling.

Osage County is subject to different regulations from the rest of the state, because the Osage Nation owns all mineral rights in the county. Ranchers and other landowners own surface rights only.

They say the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which controls the regulations (as opposed to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates drilling in the rest of the state), hasn’t done an adequate job of ensuring safety.

The Osage County Cattlemen’s Association, which represents ranchers in the area, says it means well sites are dangerous and not up to industry standards.

“It obviously affects our pocketbook in a literal fashion, due to livestock deaths, as well as water contamination, damage to our property, land values, and the list can go on,” said Jeff Henry, President of OCCA.

Osage officials met this week to revise oil and gas regulations, which the OCCA saw as an opportunity.

“We’ve being petitioning the Osage Negotiated Rulemaking Committee,” Henry said, “to adopt some environmental and natural resource protection clauses within their regulations, as we go through this process, to try to update these regulations to a comparative basis of the rest of the state of Oklahoma, and quite frankly, the rest of the nation.”

But Henry says, most of their recommendations didn’t make it into the new draft of the rules.