Federal Land Use

Hurricane Katrina-New Orleans

Flood Waters in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

Land use planning primarily occurs at the state and local level. There is no federal land use law. Although the federal government does not directly engage in land use regulation, outside of a few provisions in the Clean Water Act protecting wetlands, it does encourage coastal states to undertake land use planning through such statutes as the Coastal Zone Management Act and the Coastal Barrier Resources Act.

Federal case law, however, developed by the courts, does provide some  boundaries for state or local policing power related to land use regulation, with the courts’ main focus generally on the issue of government takings. Federal laws that directly impact adaptation to climate change deal mainly with mitigation and response to disasters, as described below. 

Relevant Federal Laws and Agencies


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