Energy. Environment. Economy.

The White House Will Determine What Comes Next On DRBC Fracking Vote

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President Obama, at the White House

Greenwire has a good look at the critical role the Obama Administration will play in breaking the Delaware River Basin Commission’s deadlock over whether or not to proceed with new hydraulic fracturing regulations.

As the article points out, fracking along the Delaware and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline put the White House in the same tricky spot: on one hand, the administration is desperate to create jobs. On the other hand, there’s a very active, very vocal group of environmental advocates who are dead-set against both efforts.

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.


  • guest

    More than 1,000 people rallied in Trenton, NJ, on Monday against natural gas drilling by “fracking” in the Delaware Watershed and around the country. Thousands more were expected to attend prior to the Delaware governor declaring his “no” vote on Thursday. Why is there no coverage from this by State Impact PA or WHYY whatsoever about Monday’s event? Very disappointing. 

    • MediaMaven

      Disappointing media coverage, indeed.  Only minimal, if any, report of anti-fracking protest etc. was carried by NPR’s nearest major-market public broadcasting station WHYY.  This is even though WHYY broadcasts throughout southern New Jersey via public radio stations which were formerly part of the NJN network until defunded by NJ Governor Christy and the State’s legislators. 

      A news release at the time said: “WHYY marks a major expansion of its broadcast area when it begins operating five New Jersey radio stations July 1. WHYY-FM programming will be heard on the stations as part of an agreement to provide continued public media service to Garden State residents after the closure of the New Jersey Network.”

      Dismal coverage of the important (anti-)fracking issue is an example of why many former NJN listeners/viewers were opposed to transfer of the radio and television stations to WHYY in Philadelphia, PA, and WNET in New York, NY.

  • Anonymous

    If Obama holds the tie breaking vote, what is the current split? If it is 2-2, who is on which side? How do we know who is in favor of the regulations? That is something that should be spelled out in the article before we decide if the Obama Administration holds a deciding vote. I think that the story is either poorly researched or poorly written. Or both.

    • MediaMaven

      On record as opposed to hydraulic fracturing in the DRBC territory are the States of New York and, as of several days before the planned vote, Delaware.  Pennsylvania and New Jersey were to have voted _for_ fracking (NJ despite the bill passed by the State legislator and vetoed by its Governor).

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