Washington Daybook: Going Underground

Photograph by Ty Wright/Bloomberg

Rolled steel sections wait to welded together to form an oil tank at Westerman Companies Inc., a company that manufactures oil tanks for the fracking industry in Bremen, Ohio.

It could all come down to fracking.

While polls show President Barack Obama may have bested Republican challenger Mitt Romney in last night’s debate on foreign policy, what just might decide who wins the Nov. 6 elections isn’t overseas, it’s underground.

Thanks to new recovery techniques including fracking, about 1.7 million energy-related jobs will be created in the U.S. this year, according to a report out today by forecaster IHS Global Insight. The gusher of jobs is easing concerns about the economy, especially in swing states such as Ohio, which has added 176,000 jobs since 2009.

“Ohio has just done considerably better than most other states, and a large part is attributed to fracking,” said Daniel Close, of Nuveen Investments in Chicago. No Republican has won the presidency without winning Ohio.

In a CBS poll of uncommitted voters conducted immediately after the final presidential debate last night, 53 percent said Obama was the winner, 23 percent thought Romney won and 24 percent felt the debate was a tie. Of 448 registered voters surveyed by CNN/ORC International, 48 percent said Obama fared better, compared with 40 percent for Romney.

The race is tight nationally, with the economy remaining the main focus of concern. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will focus on Ohio at campaign rallies in the state today, while Romney and running mate Paul Ryan head out West for stops in Nevada and Colorado. Here in D.C., the Federal Open Market Committee begins two days of meetings on interest rates, with an announcement tomorrow afternoon.

During the debate, a confident Obama declared that automatic budget cuts that are scheduled to take effect next year without action from Congress “will not happen,” while Romney said he’d cut discretionary spending 5 percent.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus appears on Bloomberg Television this morning to discuss the debate, while the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund holds a briefing on “Election 2012″ at the National Press Club.

Speaking of underground, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission meets today to discuss spent fuel storage after the Department of Energy said its oldest double-shell tank at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state is actively leaking radioactive and hazardous chemical waste from its inner shell. The Electricity Storage Association holds a luncheon on energy storage and the power grid, while Squire Sanders hosts a discussion on using public-private partnerships through renewable energy to satisfy offset obligations.

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission meets to prepare its annual report to Congress. The Washington International Trade Association holds a discussion on “Trade Policy in Next Administration: How Would Romney and Obama Differ?” And NASA Administrator Charles Bolden speaks at Atlantic Council on strategic partnerships in space.

Also today, National Highway Transportation Safety Administration head David Strickland and Google’s autonomous car chief speak at a Volvo-sponsored briefing on driverless cars. And the Washington International Horse Show begins at the Verizon Center, with the Children’s Hunter Championship set for 7 p.m.

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