WorldWide Drilling Resource

15 JANUARY 2022 WorldWide Drilling Resource® Osage Nation Counting on Secretary Haaland Compiled the Editorial Staff of WorldWide Drilling Resource® In a milestone appointment, Deb Haaland was confirmed and sworn in as the first Native American to hold a cabinet position as U.S. Secretary of the Interior. This position has a major impact on the national parks, the energy industry, and Native American affairs. Some tribal nations rely on gas and oil for economic independence, and they hope new Interior Secretary Haaland will make it easier for them to extract fossil fuels. Osage Nation in northeastern Oklahoma is one of about 12 tribal nations in the United States with high gas and oil reserves. The Osage Nation Reservation consists of approximately 1,475,000 acres, and the tribe owns all the mineral rights. The reserves are key to the tribe’s economy, providing income for tribal citizens, and they are optimistic Haaland will help them continue to prosper. Tribes and fossil fuel industries have different opinions on how the new secretary could impact the state. There is concern because Haaland, who served as a U.S. Representative from New Mexico, had a record of opposing the fossil fuel industry and expanding environmental protections on public lands. However, at her confirmation hearing, she did say the ban on gas and oil leases didn’t extend to tribal lands. But some experts do expect Haaland to show more constraint with the gas and oil industry. In any case, Haaland’s strong ties to tribal leaders could influence one of Oklahoma’s most lucrative industries. Unlike some other tribal nations, Osage Nation owns its settlement. In 1877, the tribe purchased land from Cherokee Nation and decided to permanently settle in northwestern Oklahoma. Owning the gas and oil resources has since benefited Osage Nation for generations. Chair of the Osage Minerals Council Everett Waller is responsible for maximizing profits for Osage Nation’s shareholders and is tasked with getting oil companies to lease land. He knows Haaland respects tribal sovereignty, so he believes her appointment will be beneficial. One of the problems Waller needs Haaland’s help with is to get through the bureaucracy of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Tribal nations have more hurdles to jump to get gas and oil leases than many businesses, making the Osage Nation very slow in obtaining a drilling permit. However, drilling on the Osage reservation is slowly starting again. Waller remains hopeful Haaland can help them cut through the red tape, help manage some of their environmental concerns, and look toward the future. Oil production well in Osage County, Oklahoma. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy. G&O