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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 any reasonably foreseeable direct and indirect effects on Washington’s coastal uses or resources. If the federal agency determines that the project will have such effects, then it must prepare a “consistency determination” and submit it to Ecology.

In its consistency determination, the federal agency must describe the potential coastal effects and explain how the project or activity is consistent to the maximum extent practicable with Washington’s Coastal Zone Management Program’s enforceable policies. The applicant is encouraged to submit the determination at the earliest time possible in the planning process, but it must be submitted at least 90 days prior to final approval of the federal agency activity.

Ecology has 60 days from the receipt of the consistency determination to issue its decision. If Ecology does not respond within that time by either: concurring with the federal agency’s determination; attaching conditions to the concurrence decision; or objecting to the federal agency’s determination, then the project may proceed.

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.