A book I like to read begins “God created … and He saw that it was good.” In other words, perfect without flaw or damage.

A recent BIA meeting, to get input on how to best improve the rules to protect the natural and human environment, got me to thinking about the people who live here. Whatever the reason for choosing Osage County as one’s home; I feel most came with the American Dream of owning a parcel of land, build a home, raise a family, and enjoy the beauty of Osage County. To see one’s hope scarred, maimed, or one’s health endangered because of lack of adequate environmental rules and enforcement of these rules is appalling.

Mandates and rules are essential for the protection of both the human and natural environment; for the people living and working here; for future generations; even for the protection of the mineral estate of the Osage Nation. Change in existing rules governing the operations of oil leases is imperative. New rules and enforcement of those rules will result in improved management of oil production, while protecting the environment. There’s a big difference between what is convenient and what is right. A shovel of dirt or gravel on top of an oil spill is not a clean-up, it’s a cover up.

An Osage County oil producer spoke at a past meeting, I attended, stated change is going to take place. To stay in business, oil companies need to learn to comply with these new rules and mandates. I consider that a good thing.

These new rules will make side stepping responsibility extinct. Preventive maintenance is a lot cheaper than a clean-up. To take what one can in any manner, regardless of the cost to the future generations and the environment, is not right. Change is happening. It is encouraging to see people working in this essential direction…and that is a good thing.

When the town of Pawnee, one of many towns over the past year, was damaged by an earthquake, Osage Minerals Chairman Everett Waller, who understands the need to protect both the human and natural environment, was quick to respond. In the October 2016 issue of the Osage News, Chairman Waller said “We will do whatever is necessary to protect the safety and welfare of the people. Safety is number one with us” …and that is a good thing. It should be noted that lives and businesses are still disrupted by this catastrophe, and will be for some time to come.

I read another article in the Osage News, that talked about an Osage delegation going to the Sacred Stone Camp, to take a stand with the Sioux Tribe to help protect their water source (October 2016). Delegates reported that a sign at the entrance to the camp read “Water is Life.” Why go so far to lend a hand? Because they knew when rules are not followed, it’s not if the environment will be damaged, but when. Today there are literally thousands of unplugged wells that penetrate the aquafers beneath Osage County. Families living here depend on these waters for their families and livestock. Yes, “water is life,” without it we perish. Implementing and enforcing new rules will help protect these waters. Those who are responsible need to be held accountable, and not be allowed to simply walk away. It’s a good thing to see people taking a stand for what is right. Even the Chief of the Osage, Geoffrey M. Standing Bear, so moved by the efforts of the people at Standing Rock, issued a proclamation encouraging and supporting their efforts to resist HARM to the environment … and that is a good thing. My thought is that when the Osage came to this land, they took of the water wherever they wanted, and it was clean. They breathed the air that was pure. Today gas odors and harmful fumes from vented wells permeate that air. Reclaiming oil fumes and gases, instead of venting, is the only solution to keep our air clean and pure. We here, living in Osage county, also need to stay focused in the positive changes taking place to protect the environment, for the benefit of ALL.

I especially like Charles Red Corn’s articles about the Osage and their prayers. He said “the people ask for assistance in receiving the basic needs of living, such as food and water that sustains their lives.” I wonder what has been done about the damage to the upper Bird Creek, that many think has occurred from improperly plugged wells or nearby injection wells. In another article, Charles Red Corn wrote about the understanding of the Osage, of each and every tree with profound respect for the earth and water. I asked a friend of mine, who is a shareholder and landowner, if that includes bugs, too. He said, yes it did … and that is a good thing.

In President Trump’s Earth Day message about the environment, said “our nation is blessed with abundant natural resources and awesome inspiring beauty. Americans are rightfully grateful for these God given gifts and have an obligation to safeguard them for future generations. My administration is committed to keeping our air and water clean to preserving our forests, lakes, and to protect the endangered species.” So, from the Osage Mineral Council to the President, people taking a stand speaking from the heart to protect and preserve the environment, both human and natural … and that is a good thing.

So, for the good of the mineral estate…for the good of the oil producers…for the good of all future generations. The new rules and mandates that protect and preserve the AIR, the WATER, the LAND, AND the HEALTH of ALL, both now and in the future, are necessary and essential. We’ve been given an opportunity to change what’s been taking place. Let us embrace the most stringent rule changes for the betterment of ALL.

And that will be a good thing.

May God bless Osage County with wisdom and integrity to protect and preserve all we’ve been blessed with.

David Hayes

Osage County landowner