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Federal Consistency

*NEW*  VA-2020-1 Program Change Approved by NOAA on October 2, 2020

The National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office for Coastal Management (OCM) has approved a program change to Virginia’s Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program on October 2, 2020.  The program change converts Virginia’s existing enforceable policies to a narrative format and creates new enforceable policies, in narrative format for use in federal consistency reviews.  Enforceable policies are used during federal consistency review to determine if federal actions, including those licenses and permits listed in Virginia’s approved program, are consistent with Virginia’s CZM Program.

Projects received on or after October 2, 2020, will be reviewed under the new enforceable policies (see below).  


2020 Program Change Documents:

Enforceable Policies (2020)

NOAA Decision Letter

NOAA Response to Public Comments

Table of Approved Changes (VA-2020-1)


DEQ Federal Consistency Information Package (New)

NOAA Federal Consistency Page

Program Change Submittal Documents:

June 2020 Program Change Submittal -  Public Notice

June 2020 Program Change Submittal – Proposed Narrative Enforceable Policies

Virginia's dedicated coastal management area

Virginia's Coastal Management Area includes most of Tidewater Virginia, as defined by the Code of Virginia § 28.2-100 (see map), and all coastal waters of the United States territorial sea, extending to the three-mile limit of Virginia sovereignty, including all of Virginia's Atlantic coast watershed as well as parts of the Chesapeake Bay and Albemarle - Pamlico Sound watersheds. Virginia coastal zone includes 5,000 miles of shoreline, four tidal rivers reaching as far as 100 miles inland - the Potomac, Rappahannock, York, and James rivers. There are at least 88 jurisdictions in the coastal management area. The following 29 counties are located in the coastal management area (42 towns within these counties are also included):

  • Accomack, Isle of Wight,  Northumberland, Arlington, James City, Prince George, Caroline, King George, Prince William, Charles City, King and Queen, Richmond, Chesterfield, King William, Spotsylvania, Essex, Lancaster, Stafford, Fairfax, Mathews, Surry, Gloucester, Middlesex, Westmoreland , Hanover, New Kent, York, Henrico, Northampton

The following 17 cities are located in Virginia’s coastal management area:

  • Alexandria, Hampton, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Hopewell, Richmond, Colonial Heights, Newport News, Suffolk, Fairfax, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Falls Church, Petersburg, Williamsburg, Fredericksburg, Poquoson

Federal Lands: federal lands, the use of which is by law subject solely to the discretion of or which is held in trust by the federal government, its officers or agents, are excluded from Virginia’s coastal management area. However, activities on federal lands with any reasonably foreseeable coastal effects must be consistent with the Virginia CZM Program.

Listed activities

Listed Federal Agency Activities 

Federal agencies and their activities for which consistency determinations must be prepared if the activities can have any reasonably foreseeable effects on Virginia’s coastal uses and resources. Whether an activity is listed or not, it is the federal agency’s responsibility to provide the Virginia CZM Program with consistency determinations for federal agency activities affecting the coastal zone.

  • All federal development projects inside the coastal zone are automatically subject to consistency and require a consistency determination
  • National Marine Fisheries Service – Fishery Management Plans
  • Army Corps of Engineers – Public works projects including but not limited to dredging, breakwaters, navigation aids, reservoirs, beach nourishment, etc.
  • Air Force, Army, or Navy – Location, acquisition, and design of new or expanded defense installations and related activities
  • Fish and Wildlife Service – Acquisition and management, including development of master plans for National Wildlife Refuges
  • National Park Service – Acquisition and management, including development of Master Plans for National Parks and Seashores
  • Coast Guard – Location, acquisition, and design of new or expanded facilities as well as closure of existing facilities
  • Federal Aviation Administration – Construction, maintenance, and demolition of federal aids to navigation
  • General Services Administration – Disposal of surplus federal land, property acquisition, and building construction

Listed Federal Permit, License, Approval Activities

Federal permits or licenses which require federal consistency reviews if the permitted activity affects land or water uses in the coastal zone.

  • Army Corps of Engineers
    • Section 9 or 10 permits pursuant to the Rivers and Harbors Act
    • Section 404 permit pursuant to the Clean Water Act
    • Section 103 permit pursuant to the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
    • Licenses for non-federal hydroelectric projects pursuant to Section 4 of the Federal Power Act
    • Abandonment of gas pipelines pursuant to Section 7 of the Natural Gas Act
    • Certificates authorizing construction and operation of facilities for the transportation and/or storage of natural gas pursuant to Section 7 of the Natural Gas Act
  • Economic Regulatory Commission
    • Options for permission to deliver or receive imported liquefied natural gas
  • Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
    • Permits for pipeline rights-of-way for oil and gas transmission on the Outer Continental Shelf
  • Coast Guard
    • Licenses for the construction and operation of deepwater ports pursuant to the Deepwater Port Act
    • Permit for construction and modification of bridge structures across navigable waters of the United States
  • Federal Aviation Administration
    • Permits and licenses for the construction, operation, or alteration of airports
  • Environmental Protection Agency
    • National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits pursuant to sections 402 and 403 of the Clean Water Act
    • Ocean dumping permits
    • Section 102 permits, designation of ocean dumping and incineration sites, pursuant to the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    • Permits and licenses required for the construction and operation of nuclear power plants
  • Interstate Commerce Commission
    • Abandonment of rail lines
  • National Park Service
    • Expenditures of Land and Water Conservation Funds and National Historic Preservation Funds


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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000

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