Miami Environmentalists React to President's Oil Speech

Mixed reviews for Obama's environmental rallying call

The President’s speech from the Oval Office on the oil spill response comes on the heels of a new poll showing slightly more than half of Americans do not approve of the President's handling of the oil spill.

You'd think environmentalists would be enthusiastic over the President's tougher tone and more aggressive action.
Not necessarily so. They say they like it. But they want even more.
At Tap Tap restaurant on South Beach, watching the President's speech were two local environmental activists who gave the President mixed reviews.
"I give it a 3/4 thumbs up," said Eric Ofengand, with Greenpeace. "I really liked hearing that he was making the push for clean energy a moral issue and a national priority."
"He did not commit to no more drilling in the Gulf," said Sam Van Leer, Executive Director of the Urban Paradise Guild. "And as long as people are drilling near the Gulf Stream, Florida's jobs and Florida's economy is in danger."
The mixed reviews mirror America, to some degree, where a new poll gives the President essentially a split on his response to the oil spill.
In the poll, 45 percent approve of his handling of the oil spill, while 52 percent disapprove.
However, President Obama gets better marks on his overall job as President: 50 percent approve, 49 percent disapprove.
At Cinemateque's green film festival, there were more mixed reviews.
"Well, how he's handling it in the media and how he's handling it in real life is very different," said Michael Laas, with the Surfrider Foundation. "It's hard to get a true feel for how he's doing."
"I still give thumbs up to the President," said Luis Rodrigues, executive director of the Environmental Coalition of Miami Beach. "I feel that he's taking a little bit of time to really get things going."
"I love President Obama. I think that his words saying that this was a real wake up call, that we really understand now the relationship that we have to the environment," said Gabriole Van Bryce, board member of the Environmental Coalition. "And how it is a part of our economic sustainability."
The poll, not surprisingly, shows enormous anger at BP. Just 15 percent approve of how BP is handling things, while 83 percent disapprove.
"BP? Definitely thumbs down," said film festival attendee Sean Brissett.
Meanwhile, when the President tells BP's Chairman at Wednesday’s Oval Office meeting to set aside money to pay claims, there are some wondering whether the President has the legal authority to demand that.
Florida senator Bill Nelson said Tuesday that if the law doesn't allow it, they'll change the law.
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