Washington Coastal Zone Management Program & policies

The federal Coastal Zone Management Act gives states the primary role in managing their coastal zone. In 1976, Washington was the first state to receive federal approval of a Coastal Zone Management Program by preparing a document describing coastal resources and how they're managed.

Program changes

States that have Coastal Zone Management Programs must submit updates to their enforceable policies to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

These program changes include minor, non-substantial changes or significant changes to a program's structure, management, or rules. Most changes to Washington’s Coastal Zone Management Program have been minor, non-substantial updates.
We have submitted changes to our Coastal Zone Management Program to NOAA since 1986 and continue to make changes as laws and regulations are amended. 

As we submit program changes, we issue public notices and provide information to interested parties. Current submittals pending approval by NOAA:

Federal Consistency Procedures program change

We're updating our Federal Consistency Procedures that we use to review and make decisions. Included with the procedures are two forms that applicants must use when submitting their projects to us for federal licenses, permits, and for funding assistance. We're also updating our List of Federal Licenses and Permits, which is a listing of the various federal authorizations given to applicants for projects that we wish to review. We deleted several authorizations and are proposing to add five more, including those issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Bureau of Energy Management, and the Surface Transportation Board.

The Federal Consistency Procedures change request is available to read.

Comment on this program change to the state’s approved Coastal Management Program under File Number WA-2022-1.

NOAA accepts comments for 21 days after the date of our public notice. The date of our public notice is June 22, 2022. The public comment period closes on July 13, 2022.

Program framework

While the federal Coastal Zone Management Act includes basic requirements for state partners, the law gives states the flexibility they need to design programs that best address local challenges.

To develop Washington's Coastal Zone Management Program, we relied on our existing regulatory framework to address coastal zone issues rather than draft new, all-encompassing state legislation.

While Washington does not have a stand-alone law for coastal zone management, the state relies on its network of state laws and regulations.

Since the state has a federally-approved Coastal Zone Management Program, we are eligible for federal grants to augment the state’s management activities to preserve, protect, develop, and where possible, restore or enhance these resources now and for future generations.

Having a federally-approved Coastal Zone Management Program also gives Washington a role in the federal agency decision-making process for activities that could affect the state’s coastal resources and uses.

The federal consistency provisions of the Coastal Zone Management Act require that federal actions, including the issuance of federal licenses, permits, and funding, be consistent with the enforceable policies of the Washington Coastal Zone Management Program.

The federal consistency review process enhances coordination and cooperation between the state, federal agencies, and applicants for federal licenses and permits. 

Generally, federal consistency requires that federal actions within and outside the coastal zone that could have reasonably foreseeable impacts on land, water, and natural resources of the coastal zone be consistent with the state's federally-approved Coastal Management Program.

Under federal consistency regulations, there are different requirements for activities conducted by federal agencies, those authorized by federal agencies, and federal financial assistance awards.