Giving the power to the states
The Coastal Zone Management Act
The Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (U.S. Code Title 16 Chapter 33 Sec. 1251-1465) encourages states to be responsible stewards of coastal land by implementing management programs.
The Act was passed because by the 1970s, many of the nation's lakes, streams and rivers were so degraded that many were unable to support aquatic life. Passage of the Coastal Zone Management Act focused attention on eradicating the major sources of water pollution.
Federal officials felt local and state control was the best way to correct pollution problems and environmental hazards. Therefore, the Act intentionally altered the balance between the federal government and the states, giving the power to the states.
States with approved coastal management programs have the ability to review and object to federal activities, licenses and permits that would have otherwise been protected by federal supremacy expressed in the U.S. Constitution. The Coastal Zone Management Act authorization was one of the few times in U.S. history where the federal government gave its supremacy to the states. This was and remains a clear indication of the importance of local input into effective coastal management programs.
Details of the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972
According to the Coastal Act, the goal of each state's coastal management program should be achieving the wise use of the land and water resources of the coastal zone giving full consideration to ecological, cultural, historic and esthetic values and the need for compatible economic development.
Federal law says states' coastal programs should include provisions:
- Protecting natural resources, including wetlands, flood plains, estuaries, beaches, dunes, barrier islands, coral reefs, fish and wildlife and their habitat.
- Managing coastal development to minimize the loss of life and property caused by improper development in flood-prone, storm surge, geological hazard and erosion-prone areas.
- Managing coastal development to improve, safeguard and restore the quality of coastal waters and to protect natural resources and existing uses of those waters.
- Increasing public access to the coasts for recreational purposes.
- Assisting the redevelopment of deteriorating urban waterfronts and ports.
- Assisting the preservation and restoration of historic, cultural, and aesthetic coastal features.
States' participation in the Coastal Zone Management Act is voluntary and leaves great discretion to states in implementing their coastal programs. This is done because each state faces different challenges. Today, Ohio and 34 other U.S. states and territories have coasts on the oceans or Great Lakes. Participation in the Coastal Zone Management Act brings multiple benefits such as millions of dollars in federal funding for coastal programs.
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