Transcript: Obama's Interview With Regional Reporters - Page 5 of 15

Transcript: Obama’s Interview With Regional Reporters

of doing things. And we’ve got to — we’ve got to do that. In your home town of Cleveland, I don’t know off the top of my head what the dropout rate is, but I’ve got to assume that it’s hovering around 50 percent. If you look at the number of children going through the Cleveland public schools who are actually prepared to go to college, it’s probably one out of seven or eight or 10. And that’s just not acceptable. It’s not acceptable for them, it’s not acceptable in terms of America’s economic future. And so we’ve got to experiment with ways to provide a better educational experience for our kids, and some charters are doing outstanding jobs.

So, the bottom line is to try to create innovation within the public school system that can potentially be scaled up, but also to make sure that we are maintaining very high standards for any charter school that’s created.

Q Well, I have to ask you an ethanol question.


Q The biofuels. As you probably know, your Agriculture Secretary is joining the ethanol industry and calling on the EPA to do an immediate increase in the ethanol limit to 12 or 13 percent, in advance of doing a higher 15 or 20 percent. Engine manufacturers, the automakers have been opposed to this. What is your position? Are you going to get involved in this decision by EPA?

THE PRESIDENT: At some point I usually get involved. If it — somebody explained to me that nothing comes to my desk if it’s easy. (Laughter.) It means that somebody else has solved it. And I suspect that this one will be reconciling a lot of different issues.

As you know, I’ve been a supporter of biofuels. I think it is an important ingredient in our overall energy independence. I’ve also said — and I said during the campaign trail in Iowa, in front of farmers — that it was important for us to transition to the next generation of biofuels, that we’ve got to do a much better job of developing cellulosic ethanol, that corn-based ethanol, over time, is not going to provide us with the energy-efficient solutions that are needed.

And I want to make sure, though, as somebody who comes from a corn-growing state, that the progress that we’ve made in building up a biofuels infrastructure and the important income generation that has come from ethanol plants, that that is sustained, that that’s maintained.

So our challenge, I think, is to see our current ethanol technology as a bridge to the biofuels technologies of the future. And that’s what we want to invest in, and that’s what I’ll be directing my Department of Agriculture to focus on.

Q Mr. President, you already mentioned the budget fight. I’d like to talk to you a little bit more about that, the one that’s coming up. The budget outline is an extraordinary document in many ways, and encapsulates a large part of the governing agenda that your administration has laid out. It’s