With a group of restaurants fronting the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway, it probably comes as no surprise that Ed Chiles has strong views about drilling for oil off Florida's coast.
"I think that's a bad bet," said Chiles, owner of the Sandbar, BeachHouse and Mar Vista restaurants on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, Fla. "The beaches are Florida's livelihood, and we just can't afford an oil spill. I don't see the payoff. We need to get off fossil fuels, and we need to be conserving fuels and developing alternative sources of energy, and it's time for action, not talk."
But with oil prices soaring ever higher, more people are apparently willing to accept the risk of damage to the environment if it would mean cheaper gas. A poll released last week by the Pew Research Center revealed that 47 percent of respondents considered energy exploration, drilling and the building of new power plants to be the country's top priority.
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