In 1972, the U.S. Congress passed the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), which establishes a national policy to "preserve, protect, develop, and where possible, to restore or enhance, the resources of the Nation's coastal zone for this and succeeding generations" and to "encourage and assist the states to exercise effectively their responsibilities in the coastal zone through the development and implementation of management programs to achieve wise use of the land and water resources of the coastal zone..." (16 U.S.C. 1452, Sec. 303 (1) and (2)).

This unique federal legislation gives states the funding and the opportunity to develop their own plans to manage coastal resources-plans that meet the specific needs of the state. CZMA also gives the states the authority to review federal projects, and projects receiving federal licenses and permits, to ensure that they meet state standards through a process called Federal Consistency Review.