Graduate Project

Federal consistency and the Coastal Zone Management Act: the 1990 amendments and their affect on Alaska

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  • Under the Coastal Zone Management Act, participating states were given two incentives to design programs for managing their coastal resources. One of these incentives was "federal consistency" which allowed states to review either direct federal actions or projects involving federal licenses, permits, or funding for consistency with the state coastal management program. Debates over the consistency provision centered on the scope of what activities were eligible for review. In response to the 1984 Supreme Court decision, which implied that the ability of states to review activities outside of their designated coastal zone boundary was limited, Congress amended the CZMA, and in doing so potentially increased the geographic scope of reviews. This study examines the effects of these amendments on consistency reviews conducted by Alaska. The objectives of the study are to determine if the overall number of reviews changed, if the geographic scope of reviews was expanded, if there was a change in the types of activities reviewed, if the types of agencies involved were affected, and if there was any change in the state response to consistency determinations. Overall, the study found little evidence that the amendments had significant affects on state reviews of federal consistency determinations. While the questions raised in the study are still valid, several problems hampered the effectiveness of the study, in particular difficulties in attributing the cause of results and the lack of complete data.
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