The Coastal Zone Management Act


Coastal Zone Management Act

The Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) was passed in 1972, creating three national programs: the National Coastal Zone Management Program, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, and the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP).  While the National Estuarine Research Reserve System and CELCP programs were designed to fund and promote protection and study of estuarine systems, the National Coastal Zone Management Program aimed to coordinate State and Federal  management of coastal resources by taking a comprehensive approach to resource use, economic development and natural resource conservation .

States Have a Voice through CZMAs

However, through the CZMA’s federal consistency provisions, the states have a powerful voice in the federal permitting process. The CZMA requires that federal agency activities affecting a state’s coastal zone or its resources must be carried out in a manner that is consistent with that state’s coastal zone management program. Under this provision, the states have the authority to review federal activities and permit applications for consistency with their laws and regulations. That means a state with stricter coastal wetlands laws could stop or condition federal activities or private development based on those laws. Like the CWA Section 401 Water Quality Certifications, the CZMA consistency provision is a powerful tool available to states wanting to take a proactive approach to wetlands protection.

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