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Federal Consistency

What is Federal Consistency?

The U.S. Congress passed the federal Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) in 1972 to address competing uses and resource impacts occurring in the nation’s coastal areas. The Act included several incentives to encourage coastal states to develop coastal management programs. One incentive was a legal authority called “federal consistency,” which was granted to coastal states with federally-approved coastal management programs.
The federal consistency provision of the CZMA requires that any federal action occurring in or outside of a state’s coastal zone, which has a reasonably foreseeable effect on land uses, water uses, or natural resources of the coastal zone, must be consistent with enforceable policies contained in the state’s federally-approved coastal management plan.  Federal consistency fosters cooperation and coordination between coastal states and the federal government, and assures coastal states a voice in federal decision-making that may affect coastal uses or resources.
At the federal level, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office for Coastal Management interprets the CZMA and oversees coastal states’ application of federal consistency.  At the state level, coastal states apply federal consistency provisions via state coastal management plans. 
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Federal Consistency and the Oregon Coastal Management Program

The Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) is the state's designated coastal management agency.  The agency is responsible for reviewing projects for consistency with the federally-approved coastal management plan, the Oregon Coastal Management Program (OCMP).     
The OCMP is a “networked” coastal program that integrates authorities of local governments and several state agencies.  DLCD does not exercise direct regulatory authority as it pertains to federal consistency, rather, the networked local governments and state agencies administer the coastal program laws that contain enforceable policies.  DLCD’s role in the consistency process is to review statements of consistency to ensure that federal actions comply with the local and state enforceable policies, and to issue the final statement on behalf of the state that the proposed project is consistent with the OCMP. 
In order to be consistent with the OCMP, the proposed project must be consistent with enforceable policies contained within three program components: the statewide planning goals, applicable acknowledged local comprehensive plans and land use regulations, and specific state agency authorities (e.g. those governing the Oregon Territorial Sea Plan, the Removal-Fill Law, water quality standards, and the Oregon Beach Bill).
Federal Consistency Listserv
DLCD's reviews involve a public comment opportunity and consultation with local governments, state agencies, federal agencies, and other interested parties.  To be notified of future public notices, please sign up on the DLCD Federal Consistency Listserv.  
To see current public notices, please visit the OCMP’s public notice page.
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Activities Subject to Federal Consistency Review

DLCD reviews federal actions that have reasonably foreseeable effects (both direct and indirect) on any coastal use or resource.  The federal regulations governing consistency construe the phrase “any coastal use or resource” broadly – it means any land or water use or natural resource of the coastal zone. This broad definition includes, but is not limited to, public access, recreation, fishing, development, hazards management, marinas and floodplain management, scenic and aesthetic enjoyment, and biological or physical resources that are found within a State's coastal zone on a regular or cyclical basis.
Federal actions that DLCD reviews for consistency with the OCMP fall into four main categories:
Direct Federal Actions Direct Federal Actions are actions performed by or on behalf of a federal agency, such as building a road, dredging a federal navigation channel, or repairing a jetty.  Federal agencies are responsible for making the initial determination of whether a proposed action will affect coastal uses or resources and requesting state concurrence with that determination.  Federal agencies are to consider direct, indirect, and cumulative coastal zone effects. DLCD encourages federal agencies to consult DLCD early in the planning process to determine whether the project is subject to federal consistency review.
For detailed guidance on the federal consistency review process, please click here.
Direct federal actions must be consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the enforceable policies of the OCMP, meaning fully consistent unless existing federal law prohibits full consistency.  Please see 15 C.F.R. § 930.32 for a full discussion of “consistent to the maximum extent practicable.”
Federal Licenses and Permits Federal Licenses and Permits are federal agency approvals that may affect coastal uses or resources, such as U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 and Section 10 permits.  Please click here for a list of federal licenses and permits that trigger DLCD’s federal consistency review.  DLCD encourages applicants for large projects that may have significant coastal effects to contact DLCD early in the planning process to ensure that the proposed activity will be conducted in a manner consistent with the management program.
Activities authorized by federal licenses and permits must be fully consistent with the enforceable policies of the OCMP.
Federal Financial Assistance Federal Financial Assistance is grant funding to state and local governments or related public entities.  Examples include U.S.D.A. Rural Economic & Community Development, Housing and Urban Development, and U.S. Forest Service grants.  Please contact DLCD for federal consistency requirements related to federal financial assistance.  
Relevant activities receiving federal financial assistance must be fully consistent with the enforceable policies of the OCMP.   
Outer Continental Shelf Exploration
Outer Continental Shelf Exploration includes plans for the exploration or development of, or production from, any area that has been leased pursuant to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, including all federal license or permit activities described in detail in such plans and affecting a coastal use or resource.  Please contact DLCD for federal consistency requirements related to outer continental shelf exploration. 
Outer Continental Shelf activities must be fully consistent with the enforceable policies of the OCMP.
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Where Does Federal Consistency Apply?

Oregon’s designated coastal zone stretches from the Washington border on the north to the California border on the south, bound on the west by the extent of the state's territorial sea (generally 3 nautical miles offshore), and extending east to the crest of the Coast Range.  There are a few exceptions to the eastern boundary: (a) the Columbia River, where the coastal zone extends to the downstream end of Puget Island; (b) the Umpqua River, where the coastal zone extends to Scottsburg; and (c) the Rogue River, where the coastal zone extends to Agness.
Federal consistency potentially applies to any project affecting a coastal use or resource, but DLCD generally only requires reviews for projects located west of the Coast Range boundary.
By law, Oregon’s coastal zone excludes federal lands.  However, federal consistency will apply if a project located on excluded federal land affects coastal uses or resources outside of the federal lands.
If you have a project or permit and need to know if it is located in the Oregon Coastal Zone, use our Coastal Zone Finder tool find out.  The interactive map tool will help to locate your project in relationship to Oregon's Coastal Zone boundary (the blue shaded area). 
Oregon’s GLD for federal waters is within the area defined in Oregon Statewide Planning Goal 19 Ocean Resources as the Oregon Ocean Stewardship Area.  The Ocean Stewardship Area is delineated and described in the Oregon Ocean Resources Management Plan, and the state’s management goals and policy interests for this area are enumerated in Part One of the Territorial Sea Plan.  Specifically, the GLD is a polygon starting from the seaward limit of Oregon state jurisdiction at 3 nautical miles (nm) from the shoreline, and extending seaward to a boundary line along the outer continental shelf which approximates the 500 fathom bathymetric contour.  (See Figure 1 below for a map of the GLD)  The OCMP has on file a list of geographic coordinates
that form the GLD boundary line, and can make these available on a project by project basis.
Federal consistency review of federal license or permit activities is only sought for the following types of projects proposed for the GLD. The following thresholds apply to all of the licenses and permits identified in Table 7 as being subject to review within the GLD: 
  • Any offshore wind or wave power generation facilities or structures(s), of a permanent nature, regardless of size or number;
  • Underwater cables to service power generating facilities; and• Underwater cables to service power generating facilities; and
  • Research and monitoring devices such as LIDAR, Met towers or wave energy measurement instruments with a deployment window of 5 years or greater.• Research and monitoring devices such as LIDAR, Met towers or wave energy measurement instruments with a deployment window of 5 years or greater.
Coastal Zone Finder Map Tool
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