Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Oklahoma Oil and Gas Business Braces for Change in Wake of Supreme Court Decision


On July 9, 2020, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in McGirt v. Oklahoma,[1] ruling that most of the eastern half of Oklahoma is an Indian reservation.[2] While the decision ostensibly resolves a jurisdictional challenge to a criminal conviction, the labeling of over 19 million acres in Oklahoma (including most of the city of Tulsa) as reservation could significantly impact area businesses, including oil and gas development. Chief Justice Roberts' dissent forecasts as much, stating, "The decision today creates significant uncertainty for the State's continuing authority over any area that touches Indian affairs, ranging from zoning and taxation to family and environmental law."[3]

As described below, the extent to which McGirt will impact oil and gas business in Oklahoma will hinge on a new regime of overlapping federal, state, and tribal regulation, accompanied by what will likely be years of litigation to determine the practical effects of this new regime.


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