Federal Consistency Overview

The Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) was enacted on October 27, 1972, to encourage coastal states, Great Lake States, and United States territories and commonwealths (collectively referred to as coastal states) to develop comprehensive programs to manage and balance competing uses of and impacts to coastal resources.  The CZMA emphasizes the primacy of state decision-making regarding the coastal zone.  Section 307 of the CZMA (16 USC § 1456), called the federal consistency provision, is a major incentive for states to join the national coastal management program and is a powerful tool that states use to manage coastal uses and resources and to facilitate cooperation and coordination with federal agencies.

Federal consistency is the CZMA requirement where federal agency activities that have reasonably foreseeable effects on any land or water use or natural resource of the coastal zone (also referred to as coastal uses or resources and coastal effects) must be consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the enforceable policies of a coastal state's federally approved coastal management program.  (Federal agency activities are activities and development projects performed by a federal agency, or a contractor for the benefit of a federal agency.)

Federal license or permit activities and federal financial assistance activities that have reasonably foreseeable coastal effects must be fully consistent with the enforceable policies of state coastal management programs. (Federal license or permit activities are activities proposed by a non-federal applicant requiring federal authorization, and federal financial assistance activities are proposed by state agencies or local governments applying for federal funds for activities with coastal effects.)

A lead state agency performs federal consistency reviews (usually the same agency that implements or coordinates the state's federally approved coastal management program).  At the federal level, the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM), within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA's) National Ocean Service (NOS), among other duties and services, interprets the CZMA and oversees the application of federal consistency; provides management and legal assistance to coastal states, federal agencies, tribes and others; and mediates CZMA related disputes. NOAA's Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Ocean Services assists OCRM and processes federal consistency appeals to the Secretary of Commerce.

For more detailed information, please see the document "Federal Consistency Overview" and NOAA's federal consistency regulations.  Both of these documents are found at the Federal Consistency Resources page.

For questions contact:

David W. Kaiser
Senior Policy Analyst
Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, NOAA
Coastal Response Research Center, University of New Hampshire
246 Gregg Hall, 35 Colovos Road
Durham, New Hampshire 03824-3534
Phone: 603-862-2719
Fax: 603-862-3957

Mr. Kerry Kehoe
Federal Consistency Specialist
Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (N/ORM3)
NOAA National Ocean Service
1305 East West Hwy., Room 11321
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910-3281
Phone: 301-563-1151
Fax: 301-713-4367

Official OCRM Filing and Document Submission Address:

Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1305 East-West Highway (N/ORM3)
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910-3281