Coastal Planning, Federal Consistency, and Climate Change: A Recent Divergence of Federal and State Interests

Vol. 27 No. 1

Mr. McGuire is assistant professor of Environmental Policy in the Department of Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth.

Since the 1970s, the U.S. Government has advanced a policy for the rational development and protection of coastal resources. The passage of the Coastal Zone Management Act in 1972, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1451 et seq. (the CZMA) created federal financial assistance and some deference to coastal states as incentives to design and implement plans for the comprehensive management of coastal resources. Under guidelines focused on preservation, protection, development, restoration, and enhancement, all coastal states (Illinois is currently in the final phases) have developed coastal management plans. An additional benefit beyond the creation of comprehensive coastal state policies is that the CZMA requires that the federal government, to the extent practicable, ensure federal practices are consistent with approved state coastal management plans. Id. at § 1456(c). In this way, the CZMA establishes what some have referred to as a “reverse supremacy clause” regarding the state and federal relationship in marine policy management. See Patrick J. Gibbons, Too Much of a Good Thing? Federal Supremacy & the Devolution of Regulatory Power: The Case of the Coastal Zone Management Act, 48 Naval L. Rev. 84 (2001).

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