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The Coastal Zone Management Act and the Nation’s Policy on the Oceans, Coasts, and Great Lakes: Its Role and Its Potential

October 9, 2009

Co-Sponsored by the Environmental Law Institute, the Coastal States Organization, and the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association

Senate Briefing:
253 Russell Senate Office Building

As the nation considers a National Policy for the Oceans, Coasts and Great Lakes, policy-makers must be certain that the authorities, policies and tools exist to implement the Policy and its objectives. Enacted in 1972, the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) provides a vehicle for coastal protection through a unique state-federal partnership. Drawing on management experience over 35 years, the CZMA focuses on comprehensive planning rather than resource or sector-specific programs. With both traditional and new uses competing for space in coastal areas, the challenges of adapting to climate change, and the need for better links between science and management, the CZMA requires reinvigoration and reauthorization.

As Congress considers important legislation for climate change adaptation and energy policy and recommendations for a National Policy for the Oceans, Coasts and Great Lakes, it must also renew its commitment to the CZMA as key legislation that allows coastal states and communities to plan for and manage these new challenges.

Representatives of federal and state agencies, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations discussed the role of the CZMA in our nation, the effect it has on coastal ecosystems, and potential changes to make it stronger.

  • Donna S. Wieting, Acting Director, NOAA Office of Ocean & Coastal Resource Management
  • Sarah W. Cooksey, Administrator, Delaware Coastal Programs
  • Jim Lanard, Managing Director, Deepwater Wind
  • Kenny Wright, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Seagrass Recovery


  • Jordan Diamond, Staff Attorney, Environmental Law Institute



Click here for more information on ELI’s Ocean Series

The 2009 Ocean Seminar Series is made possible by generous support from the Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation