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Coastal Zone Management Act

Congress passed the Coastal Zone Management Act to assist coastal states, Great Lake states, and United States' territories to develop state coastal management programs, and comprehensively manage and balance competing uses of and impacts to coastal resources. Federal consistency is the CZMA requirement that federal actions affecting any land or water use, or natural resource of the coastal zone be consistent with the enforceable policies of a coastal state's or territory's federally approved coastal management program. Specifically, the process authorizes states to review the following categories of activities for compliance with the requirements of their approved management programs:

A. activities conducted by or on behalf of a federal government agency;
B. activities which require a federal license or permit;
C. activities conducted pursuant to an Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act exploration plan or
lease; and
D. federally funded activities.

Federal consistency is the CZMA requirement that federal actions affecting any land or water use, or natural resource of the coastal zone be consistent with the enforceable policies of a state's federally approved coastal management program. Federal consistency is a mandatory, but flexible, mechanism to resolve potential conflicts between states and federal agencies by fostering early consultation, cooperation, and coordination.

If a state with an approved coastal management program determines that an activity in category A is "inconsistent" (not in compliance) with the requirements of its approved program, the federal agency may not proceed with the activity, unless full consistency with the state's program is prohibited by federal law. If a state determines that an activity in category B, C or D is inconsistent with the requirements of its approved program, the federal agency may not proceed with the activity or financial award. The CZMA federal consistency provisions address the need for federal agencies to consider state and territorial coastal management policies when carrying out federal projects and programs. Subsequently, federal consistency is a mandatory, but flexible, mechanism to resolve potential conflicts between states, territories and federal agencies by fostering early consultation, cooperation, and coordination.

Federal consistency is more than just a procedural dictate. For instance, the federal consistency "effects test" can help protect entire ecosystems as well as individual resources and uses. The "effects test" is used to determine if a federal action is subject to federal consistency by determining if it is reasonably likely to affect any land or water use or natural resource of the coastal zone. If a federal or federally supported activity occurs outside a coastal state's territorial waters or inland coastal zone boundary, but will affect coastal water quality, habitat, wetlands, etc., then it is potentially subject to federal consistency review and state coastal management policies.

For states, federal consistency is a powerful tool to reach most federal actions affecting the coastal zone. For federal agencies, consistency provides an effective mechanism to document coastal effects and to address state and territorial coastal management concerns. Early attention to the federal consistency process often provides the federal agency with state and public support and a smooth and expeditious state permit review later on. Early consultation and cooperation between federal agencies and coastal management programs helps federal agencies avoid costly last minute changes to projects in order to comply with state regulatory requirements.

 

Last updated: February 08, 2007

  Florida Department of Environmental Protection, 3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 47  Tallahassee, Florida 32399
850-245-2118 (phone) / 850-245-2128 (fax) 
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