Consistency Review

Federal Consistency

The Federal regulations that implement the consistency provisions of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) are found at 15CFR Part 930. These regulations establish the procedures to be followed in order to assure that federal agency activities are consistent with the enforceable policies of the New York State Coastal Management Program. The types of activities that are covered by these regulations are:

  • activities directly undertaken by, or on behalf of, federal agencies;
  • activities requiring authorizations or other forms of approval from federal agencies;
  • activities involving financial assistance from federal agencies; and
  • outer continental shelf activities.

Federal consistency provisions apply to activities both in the State’s coastal area and outside of the coastal area when the activities would affect coastal resources or coastal land and water uses (see 15 CFR 930.11(b) and 15 CFR 930.11(g)).

The procedures to be followed vary depending on the type of federal activity, and are described in the consistency section (pdf) of the CMP document. The following summarizes the procedures to be followed:

Activities directly undertaken by or on behalf of federal agencies
Any federal agency considering undertaking an activity is required to submit a consistency determination and other necessary information and data to the Department of State. The consistency determination must:

  • include a brief statement by the federal agency indicating whether a proposed activity will be undertaken in a manner consistent to the maximum extent practicable (see 15 CFR 930.32 for explanation of the term "consistent to the maximum extent practicable") with the State's coastal policies.
  • must be based on an evaluation of relevant CMP policies,
  • include a detailed description of the activity, its associated facilities, and their coastal effects, and
  • include comprehensive data and information to support the federal agency's consistency statement (see 15 CFR 930, Subpart C).

Unless an alternative schedule is agreed to by the Department of State and the federal agency, a federal agency's consistency determination is required to be submitted to the Department of State at least ninety days (90) prior to final approval by the federal agency of the activity.

The Department of State reviews a federal agency's proposed activity and consistency determination, and renders its own decision regarding the consistency of the activity with the CMP. This is usually accomplished within sixty (60) to seventy five (75) days of receipt of a federal agency consistency determination. The Department and federal agencies may agree to other time frames.

It is important to note that federal coastal consistency obligations are independent of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements and are not fulfilled by submission of a NEPA document. However, federal agencies are encouraged to include relevant coastal effects and coastal policy analysis information in NEPA processes and documents. A federal agency may include a consistency determination in a NEPA document so long as the federal agency ensures the document includes the relevant information and adheres to time frames in 15 CFR 930, Subpart C (see also 15 CFR 930.37).

Federal consistency provisions preclude federal agencies from undertaking activities when it is determined they are not consistent with the State's coastal policies or special management area plans, such as Local Waterfront Revitalization Programs, that are approved elements of the State Coastal Management Program.

Activities requiring federal agency authorizations or approvals

Anyone who applies for a federal agency license or permit, including authorizations, certifications, approvals, leases, or other forms of permission, is required to submit a certification that the proposed activity is consistent with all applicable State coastal policies.

The consistency certification must include:

  • a completed Federal Consistency Assessment Form;
  • an identification of coastal policies affected by an applicant's proposed activity;
  • a brief assessment of the effects of the activity on the applicable policies; and,
  • a statement indicating how the activity is consistent with each applicable policy (see 15 CFR 930, Subpart D, and instructions in Federal Consistency Assessment Form (FCAF)

This certification and all other data and information necessary to assess the coastal effects of a proposed activity is to be submitted in an application to the federal agency. Applicants are also required to submit a copy of the federal application, the consistency certification, and the other necessary information and data to the Department of State at the same time it is submitted to the federal agency. If a proposal is the subject of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), pursuant to either the National Environmental Policy Act or the State Environmental Quality Review Act, the final EIS may be required before the Department formerly initiates its review.

The Department of State is required to review a proposed activity and consistency certification. The Department will then make a decision whether a proposed activity is consistent with the applicable policies of the CMP. During its review, if it appears that a proposal may in some way not be consistent with the Coastal Management Program, the Department may suggest ways the proposal can be modified to be consistent with the coastal policies.

For most activities the Department's review and decision are completed within thirty days of receipt of a completed consistency certification and all necessary information. In some instances, especially for those activities that are more complicated, involve more coordinated public and interagency reviews, or are the subject of an environmental impact statement the Department's review and decision may take up to three (3) or six (6) months. An applicant and the Department may agree to stay or extend this six month time period to accommodate changes in a proposed activity or resolve outstanding issues.

Federal consistency provisions preclude federal agencies from authorizing any activity if the Department of State determines the activity is not consistent with the State's coastal policies or special management area plans, such as Local Waterfront Revitalization Programs, that are approved elements of the State Coastal Management Program. The Department's decision may be appealed to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. An appeal must be based on one or both of the grounds that the proposed activity is consistent with the objectives or purposes of the CZMA, or necessary in the interest of national security (see also 15 CFR Part 930, Subpart H).

Activities involving financial assistance from federal agencies

Any State or local government agency that applies for federal financial assistance is required to submit to the Department of State a copy of their application for the financial assistance. The information submitted to the Department of State must also include an evaluation of the relationship of the proposed activity, and its reasonably foreseeable effects on coastal land and water uses or resources, to the State's coastal policies
(see 15 CFR 930, Subpart F).

The Department of State is required to review the information provided by the State or local agency seeking financial assistance and render a consistency decision indicating whether or not the Department objects to the activity. Most financial assistance reviews and decisions are completed within thirty days. There may be longer review periods for activities that are more complicated, involve more coordinated public and interagency reviews, or are the subject of environmental impacts statements.

Federal consistency provisions preclude federal agencies from funding any activities when the Department of State determines that the activity to be funded is not consistent with the State's coastal policies or special management area plans, such as Local Waterfront Revitalization Programs, that are approved elements of the State Coastal Management Program.

For any entity, other than a state or local government agency, that applies for federal financial assistance, their funding application will be subject to the consistency procedures applicable to direct federal activities.

Outer continental shelf exploration, development and production activities
Special procedures apply to this relatively uncommon activity (see 15 CFR 930, Subpart E).

Federal Consistency Assessment Form
FCAF - to be completed only by applicants for federal agency authorizations

For projects requiring a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Joint NYS Department of Environmental Conservation/ U.S. Army Corps of Engineers application form is available at: 
Joint Application web page

Consistency Decisions