- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

PAWHUKSA, Okla. (AP) - Osage County oil and gas producers, residents and tribal officials have voiced concern over a proposed environmental assessment on the area’s drilling operations.

The Tulsa World (https://bit.ly/1QRML0f ) reports that a listening session to discuss the assessment was held Monday. The Bureau of Indian Affairs, which oversees the oil and gas industry in the county on behalf of the Osage Nation, has said the area needs a new environmental impact statement and conducted a study.

The report on the study published earlier this month, if approved, would replace a blanket declaration issued by the bureau in 1979 that said Osage County’s oil and gas production has no significant environmental impact. The report may lead to new regulations in the county.

The 1979 study is currently the subject of a pending federal lawsuit by several Osage County property owners

The three potential actions the bureau could take regarding environmental requirements for drilling-permit applicants in Osage County are maintaining the status quo; adding some formalized county-wide measures regarding resource conservation; or implementing more up front, proactive measures, such as mandatory vehicle buffer zones around the breeding grounds of the lesser prairie chicken.

Oil and gas producer William Lynn said, “All three are detrimental to our Osage lifestyle. This isn’t the BIA’s land. This is Osage land.”

Jeannine Hale, the environmental officer for the bureau’s Eastern Oklahoma regional office in Muskogee, says a final version of the assessment is scheduled to be released February. The agency will announce in April which one of the three actions it will take.


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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