Chapter 14 in John Levy’s Contemporary Urban Planning discusses environmental and energy planning at the federal and local level and briefly about the politics that ensue from environmental issues. The environment has become a planning issue as much as it has been a legal, physical, and social problem in the past few years. It is safe to say that it will continue to be a problem into the foreseeable future. The safety of our environment has pitted groups against each other, such as those favoring more protection and regulations of our resources and those in various industries who do not want to be hard hit economically and have their businesses fail. Although these issues have been complex and difficult to reach resolutions for, they have created activists out of ordinary people and drawn more citizens to become involved in their local and federal government’s issues.

All of this makes it extremely difficult to be a city planner, as requirements need to be met, and interests have to be taken into account. A current issue in environmental planning in the tri-state area is the building of the Penn East Pipeline. The Penn East Pipeline is a new pipeline proposed to cross the Delaware River into New Jersey over 4,000 acres of currently preserved farmland, forest, and developed land. New Jersey Conservation Foundation has an obvious stance of being against the pipeline, due to the risk of contaminating groundwater if the pipeline were to leak or explode and the danger to historic properties and ecosystems in the process of clearing land for it. New Jersey Congressional Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman and Leonard Lance have spoken out to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) who are in charge of the building of the pipeline, and have asked the FERC to consider a more careful, comprehensive approach to reviewing the pipeline.

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Issues such as these affect everyone, consumers, legislators, businesses, and planners alike. While consumers may be pro-pipeline because their gas and home heating and cooling prices will go down, others who are more environmentally conscious may not be so keen on the pipeline because it perpetuates the heavy reliance on fossil fuels that this country has. In addition, land will have to be cleared to make way for the pipeline and groundwater is at risk for contamination if anything were to go amiss. Opinions are not black and white on most environmental issues, as people have many factors that formulate their decisions, such as where they live, what kind of income they live on, and their occupation field. People may want lower energy prices so that they can buy healthier food at the grocery store, for example, or get a newer, more energy efficient vehicle. Therefore, no decisions are inherently pro or anti environment, it’s just a matter of perspective.

The PennEast Pipeline is still in the works of being built, with a great deal of opposition against it and still some support for it. The four steps in the planning approach are still in the process, where dimensions of the problem are established, alternative methods are considered, costs, both internal and external, are developed, and site selection is made. The impact that the pipeline would have on planning could possibly involve more people driving on the roads with lower gas prices and higher levels of traffic. This pipeline will definitely impact many counties and municipalities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and the planning of roads and developments for the future.

References:

New Jersey Conservation Foundation. http://njconservation.org/currentissues.html

Levy, John M. Contemporary Urban Planning. 10th ed. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.

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