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Coastal zone management federal consistency review

Under Washington's Coastal Zone Management Program, activities that affect any land use, water use or natural resources in the coastal zone must comply with the enforceable policies found within the four state laws and their implementing regulations that make up our program and policies.

The federal Coastal Zone Management Act authorizes states with approved Coastal Zone Management Programs to review federal activities, projects which require a federal permit, or project utilizing federal funding proposed in a state's coastal zone. The state review process for these federal actions is known as federal consistency, and serves as a powerful tool to manage coastal activities and resources and to facilitate coordination and cooperation with federal agencies.

Generally, federal consistency requires that federal actions within and outside the coastal zone, which have reasonably foreseeable effects on any coastal use (land or water) or natural resource of the coastal zone be consistent with the enforceable policies of a state's federally approved Coastal Zone Management Program. The specific type of federal action will determine whether a consistency determination or certification is required.
  • Activities undertaken by a federal agency
  • Activities which require federal approval
  • Activities which use federal funding
Each category has different federal consistency requirements as discussed below.
Activities undertaken by a federal agency

A federal activity is any development or function performed by or for a federal agency. Examples include adopting a management plan for a wildlife sanctuary, constructing nearshore facilities, and dredging new channels. The federal agency must determine if its project or activity has reasonably foreseeable coastal effects. Should the federal agency determine there will effects on the coastal environment, then it must prepare a “consistency determination” and submit it to us.
In its consistency determination, the federal agency must describe the coastal effects and explain how the project or activity is consistent with Washington’s Coastal Zone Management Program. We have 60 days from the receipt of the consistency determination to issue our decision.

Activities which require federal approval Activities using federal funding

Get involved

A public notice is often issued jointly by us and the federal agency issuing the permit or license; otherwise we will issue a separate public notice for the project. Each public notice will include a comment period during which the public, federal, state, and local agencies, tribes, and other interested parties can submit comments on the proposed project.

Comments can be submitted by mail or email and will be made part of the official record.