Two state agencies on Tuesday challenged proposed federal rules for jurisdiction and oil and gas production in Osage County.
In the 11-page letter to the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt objected to language regarding water rights and said state regulators should have jurisdiction.
“The State of Oklahoma, not the federal government, is best equipped to design, administer and enforce laws and regulations related to oil and gas development,” Pruitt said. “State regulatory programs have been carefully designed to address state-specific issues and are applied consistently, regularly reviewed, and continuously subjected to thoughtful administrative oversight unlike the federal program that is notorious for frequent and prolonged delays.
“The BIA should start over with the rule-making process in order to address these issues.”
J.D. Strong, executive director for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, expressed a similar sentiment in his comments to the BIA this week.
Strong said the proposed rules would give the Osage Nation control over the water throughout the county.
The proposed rule “places jurisdiction in the BIA that the agency does not possess and could result in shortages of stream water for those who are properly permitted under Oklahoma law,” Strong wrote.
A representative from the BIA did not return phone calls Tuesday.
A spokesman for the Osage Nation said he could not comment Tuesday, but that the nation will address Pruitt's statement later in the week.
The tribe previously has claimed control over the water rights throughout the county.
Osage County has an unusual mix of state and federal jurisdictions.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission regulates most oil and natural gas operations throughout the state, but the agency has no jurisdiction in Osage County because the mineral rights throughout the county are owned by the Osage Nation.
The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and the Oklahoma Water Resources Board have some regulatory authority in the county along with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.