Obama awards $2.3 bln clean energy tax credits

  @ibtimes on January 08 2010 4:16 PM

U.S. President Barack Obama will unveil a $2.3 billion tax credit Friday to boost jobs by promoting clean energy, as fresh data showed that the country's unemployment remains stuck in the double digits.

The White House said the credit, from funds already earmarked under a $787 billion stimulus package Obama signed last February, would create 17,000 new U.S. jobs and would be matched by an additional $5 billion in private capital.

High unemployment is one Obama's most pressing domestic challenges and a monthly payroll report released Friday served as a reminder that labor market conditions remain grim. U.S. unemployment was unchanged at 10 percent in December, while businesses unexpectedly shed 85,000 jobs.

Obama is due to make the announcement at 3 p.m. (2000 GMT) at the White House.

The Recovery Act awards I am announcing today will help close the clean energy gap that has grown between America and other nations while creating good jobs, reducing our carbon emissions and increasing our energy security, Obama will say in his remarks, according to a White House statement.

Climate change, alongside healthcare and financial regulation reform, is a core goal of Obama's White House.

But all require support from Congress, where his Democratic Party may suffer a setback in November mid-term elections unless he can start to push the jobless figures down.

The clean energy tax credits have been granted to 183 projects around the country involved in technologies that include solar, wind, efficiency and energy management projects.

Building a robust clean energy sector is how we will create the jobs of the future, Obama will say.

The White House credits Recovery Act stimulus money with helping prevent the deepest U.S. recession in 70 years from getting much worse, and has renewed its push to boost job creation, which many analysts say warrants more public spending.

Obama held a jobs summit and met with bankers last month to boost lending to small businesses in the hope that this would encourage them to hire more workers.

In addition, the House of Representatives has approved an additional $155 billion jobs package to boost hiring, although the Senate has yet to take up its version of this legislation and will first tackle Obama's signature healthcare reforms.

(Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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