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Federal Consistency

photoCoastal states have a special responsibility to protect America's ecologically and economically significant coastal and marine resources. Consequently, coastal states have authority over a broad range of activities that could affect these coastal zone resources. New Jersey's coastal zone extends to the limit of its territorial waters, three nautical miles (3.5 statute miles) to sea from its shoreline. While many coastal activities are under direct control of the state, actions by federal agencies or actions in federal waters beyond a state's territorial waters, may adversely affect a state's coastal or marine resources or uses. Federal Consistency serves as an important tool that provides states the ability to protect their coastal and marine resources and uses by ensuring that federal actions are consistent with the states' coastal policies.

Federal actions subject to Federal Consistency review fall into three categories. These are: Federal Agency Activities, which are direct actions of federal agencies, Federal Licenses, Permits, and Other Regulatory Approvals, which are permits or licenses granted by federal agencies to a public or private entity, and Federal Financial Assistance to State and Local Governments, which is federal funding granted by federal agencies to State or local governments. Federal Consistency addresses federal actions that occur within a state's coastal zone, as well as inland of a state's coastal zone, in the coastal zone of another state, or in federal waters (beyond the limit of the state's territorial waters, as described above).

In the United States, coastal areas are managed through the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (CZMA). This law authorizes individual states to develop plans that incorporate the strategies and policies they will employ to manage development and use of coastal land and water areas. Each plan must be approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). One of the components of an approved plan is enforceable policies, that is, state policies that are legally binding and by which a state exerts control over coastal uses and resources. In New Jersey, the enforceable policies are contained in the Coastal Zone Management rules (N.J.A.C. 7:7E), the Coastal Permit Program rules, (N.J.A.C. 7:7), and the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act rules, (N.J.A.C. 7:7A). Three major state laws are implemented through the Coastal Zone Management rules: the Waterfront Development Law, the Wetlands Act of 1970, and the Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA). The Hackensack Meadowlands Reclamation and Development Act and the Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act are additional authorities for Federal Consistency review. Most Federal Consistency determinations are made by the NJDEP's Land Use Regulation Program. The Office of Dredging and Sediment Technology conducts Federal Consistency reviews for dredging and port activities.

NOAA encourages coastal states to list federal actions that are subject to Federal Consistency review. The purpose of this listing is to improve coordination between federal and state agencies by describing the state process for Federal Consistency review, as well as the types of activities that the state intends to review. The New Jersey Coastal Management Office plans to update its list of federal actions subject to consistency review. Consultation with federal agencies and affected states will be a critical part of these updates. The comprehensive list will facilitate coordinated and effective use of the Federal Consistency process in managing New Jersey's valuable coastal resources and uses.

The Coastal Management Office has prepared a Federal Consistency guidance document that describes Federal Consistency, the three categories of Federal actions and their review procedures. Federal consistency determinations should be submitted to:

401-07D P.O. Box 420
401 East State Street
Trenton, NJ 08625-0420

Phone: (609) 984-0058 or (609) 633-2201

New Jersey's Federal Consistency Guidance Document (pdf)
New Jersey's Approved Federal Consistency Listings (pdf)
Federal Consistency Fact Sheet (pdf)
Maps Identifying the Geographic Locations of the Listed Interstate Activities (pdf)

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Last Updated: January 7, 2016