Fracking in the Delaware River Basin will be Obama’s call.
The Obama administration controls the tie-breaking vote on a plan to begin drilling for natural gas in the Northeast, shining a spotlight on its efforts to find a middle ground on the use of hydraulic fracturing to tap deep shale rock formations for energy.
Some local environmental groups are comparing the proposal, and their efforts to block it, to the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline, which would bring crude to the United States from Canada’s oil sands region. Green groups claimed a big victory earlier this month when the administration delayed a decision on that project.
The administration is holding its cards close to the vest on the drilling proposal before the Delaware River Basin Commission. The obscure but important agency has authority over development in a watershed that includes parts of four states and supplies drinking water to 5 percent of the country’s population, including Philadelphia and New York City.
Late last week, the commission called off a vote that had been planned for today on whether to approve regulations and allow drilling to start.
The four governors who vote on the panel appear to be split, 2-2. The administration, represented on the panel by an Army Corps of Engineers commander, has the key fifth vote. That gives the White House a role in what is commonly a state decision…