The Interior Department on Tuesday announced that they’re going to scrap their plans to finalize regulations that would impose further top-down controls on hydraulic fracturing by the end of this year. Perhaps it’s just another case of a wildly inefficient, delay-prone, bungling bureaucracy taking its sweet time, but I’d wager this is a sign of an Obama administration still conflicted about how to handle the potentially pending natural-gas bonanza.

“In order to ensure that the 170,000 comments received are properly analyzed, the Bureau of Land Management expects action on the [hydraulic fracturing] proposal in the new year,” Interior spokesman Blake Androff said.

In May Interior floated draft rules that would force drillers, when operating on federal lands, to disclose chemicals used when employing the method dubbed “fracking.” Interior officials had previously said they that planned to complete the rules by the end of 2012. …

The proposed rules for federal lands have faced heavy criticism from industry groups and some Republicans, who say state oversight is sufficient.

I wondered over the weekend whether President Obama will decide to take full advantage of the abundant natural resources American companies are clamoring to tap, as the subsequent private sector jobs-and-wealth creation would provide a means to cover for his economic ineptitude, or if he’s going to throw bones to the green lobby & friends — but I’m not sure even they know what they’re going to do yet, and they seem plenty willing to stall.

On a semi-related note, another indicator on the direction of Obama’s coming climate-and-energy policies could come in the form of who he finally decides to nominate as Hillary Clinton’s successor as secretary of State. We all know about the Susan Rice-drama, but her reported rival for the post, Sen. John Kerry, has been mighty vocal about so-called climate issues throughout his political career, and his appointment might mean President Obama is ready to go full-on environmental-globalist. We shall see:

If Sen. John Kerry becomes the next secretary of State or Defense, he will likely raise climate change to a top-tier priority in either agency. …

“No senator since Al Gore knows as much about the science and diplomacy of climate change as Kerry,” said David Goldwyn, an international energy consultant who served as Clinton’s special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs. “He would not only put climate change in the top five issues he raises with every country, but he would probably rethink our entire diplomatic approach to the issue.”

Kerry could also have a strong impact on climate policy as Defense secretary given the Pentagon’s emergence as a leading force in the Obama administration on energy and climate issues.

[I]n an impassioned Senate floor speech in August, Kerry compared the threat of climate change to the threat of war. “I believe that the situation we face [with climate change] is as dangerous as any of the sort of real crises that we talk about” in Iran, Syria, and other world trouble spots, he said.