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The Coastal Zone Management Act Amendments of 1976: Tailoring Coastal Zone Protection to Expanded Offshore Oil Production

September 1976

Citation: 6 ELR 10193

Issue: 9

On July 26, 1976, President Ford signed into law the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZM Act) Amendments of 1976,1 a measure designed to improve the ability of the nation's 30 coastal states to plan for and control the impact of energy facility and resource development in their coastal areas. The Amendments, which several executive departments had vainly urged the President to veto, augment the present system of federal financial assistance for state development and implementation of coastal zone management programs. They also introduce several new elements into the Act, including a "coastal energy impact program" supported by federal grants and loans, and they modify the CZM Act's "federal consistency" requirements concerning outer continental shelf activities, a change which may be of central importance to coastal states.

As originally passed in 1972, the CZM Act2 was intended to establish a regulatory structure through which the nation's coastline, including the Great Lakes, would be protected from the adverse effects of haphazard commercial, residential, and recreational development. Because it pre-dated the 1973 oil embargo and ensuing "energy crisis," however, the Act did not reflect the new national policy of energy self-sufficiency, which depends to a large extent on expanded oil production from the nation's outer continental shelf (OCS). The statute did require state coastal zone management plans to provide for "adequate consideration of the national interest involved in the siting of facilities necessary to meet requirements which are other than local in nature."3 But the Atlantic states, off whose shores there had as yet been no OCS leasing, read this language as referring to the siting of electric power plants rather than onshore oil processing and storage facilities.

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