In response to the federal Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), the Commonwealth of Massachusetts developed its coastal zone management program, which was approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1978. This program is implemented by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) and has been routinely updated. The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management Policy Guide - October 2011 is the current official statement of the Massachusetts coastal program policies and legal authorities.
The CZMA gives states the authority to review federal projects to ensure that they meet state standards articulated in their coastal zone management plans through a process called federal consistency review. Federal consistency review is required for most projects that: 1) are in or can reasonably be expected to affect a use or resource of the Massachusetts coastal zone, and/or 2) require federal licenses or permits, receive certain federal funds, are a direct action of a federal agency, or are part of outer continental shelf plans for exploration, development, and production.
Pre-Application Consultation with CZM
CZM strongly encourages pre-application consultation for actions or activities that are subject to federal consistency review. CZM policy and technical staff can provide advance assistance on questions regarding jurisdiction, activities subject to review, contents of the consistency certification and material necessary to commence review, review schedule, and project design and/or operation. The purposes of such interaction are to ensure the review procedures are well understood and to help the consistency review process occur in a timely and efficient manner.
If, after reviewing this material, you have questions or need additional information, please call the Project Review Coordinator at (617) 626-1050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please specify in the email that you have a federal consistency question.
Details on CZM's federal consistency review process are provided in:
- Apply for Federal Consistency Review - This “how to” guide provides complete details on the application process.
- Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management Policy Guide - October 2011 - The Policy Guide is the official statement of the Massachusetts coastal program policies and legal authorities, especially as they relate to the process of federal consistency review. It provides the official program policies of the Massachusetts coastal program and includes information on the federal Coastal Zone Management Act, the history and operation of the Massachusetts coastal program, federal consistency review, and the application of coastal policy in other state regulatory programs.
- Federal Consistency Review in Massachusetts (PDF, 147 KB) - The Federal Consistency Review Section of the Policy Guide provides an overview of how the federal consistency review process is applied in Massachusetts.
- Massachusetts Coastal Program Policies (PDF, 1 MB) - The Massachusetts Coastal Program Policies section of the Policy Guide specifies CZM's enforceable policies. Proponents must demonstrate that projects subject to federal consistency review are consistent with these policies. (To navigate with bookmarks, download and open this file in Adobe Reader or Acrobat.)
- Listed Federal Actions (PDF, 62 KB) - Appendix 4 of the Policy Guide provides the complete and current list of federal activities that have been determined by Massachusetts to have reasonably foreseeable effects on coastal uses or resources and may therefore be subject to federal consistency review by CZM without further approval from NOAA or other federal agency, unless otherwise provided in NOAA's Federal Consistency Regulations.
- NOAA Federal Consistency Rules (PDF, 928 KB) - These are the federal regulations promulgated by NOAA at 15 CFR 930 et seq., which govern federal consistency for approved coastal management programs.
- Coastal Zone Management Regulations - This list includes 301 CMR 20, which covers implementation and administration of the Massachusetts Coastal Program and Federal Consistency Review, as well as the other sets of state regulations promulgated by CZM.
- Massachusetts Coastal Zone Boundary - The official boundary includes the lands and waters within an area defined by the seaward limit of the state's territorial sea, extending from the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border south to the Massachusetts-Rhode Island border, and landward to 100 feet inland of specified major roads, rail lines, other visible rights-of-way, or in the absence these, at specified coordinates specified.
- Environmental Permitting in Coastal Massachusetts - This guide, updated and revised in 2021, provides brief descriptions of the major Massachusetts environmental permits.