Federal Consistency

Providing a mechanism for states to manage coastal uses and resources, and coordinating with federal agencies.

Beach sand and dunes in foreground, boats in background.Because federal activities can greatly impact a state's coastal resources, the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) established a formal review process commonly known as federal consistency. Section 307 of the CZMA, known as the federal consistency provision, provides a mechanism for states to manage coastal uses and resources and to facilitate cooperation and coordination with federal agencies. The New Hampshire Coastal Program is responsible for issuing all federal consistency decisions in New Hampshire.

The federal consistency review process in New Hampshire involves intradepartmental coordination within NHDES, and coordination with other state agencies such as the Fish and Game Department and the Department of Transportation. The review process ensures that federal activities affecting any land or water use, or natural resource in New Hampshire's coastal zone will be conducted in a manner consistent with NHCP's enforceable policies.

Federal activities can take the form of activities proposed by federal agencies, activities proposed by nonfederal entities requiring federal licenses or permits, and activities involving federal financial assistance to state agencies or local governments. In addition, outer continental shelf exploration, development and production activities in any area that has been leased under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (43 USC 1331 et seq.) require a federal consistency review.

Federal Consistency Guide

The NHCP has developed a “Guide to Federal Consistency” to provide agencies, applicants, municipalities and the public with information to better understand the process.

Public Notices

The public is provided with opportunities to comment on activities requiring federal consistency review, draft Coastal Program plans and proposed changes to the Coastal Program.

Program Changes

States with approved coastal management programs (CMPs) may amend, modify or otherwise change their program, pursuant to section 306(e) of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) and its implementing regulations (15 C.F.R. Part 923, Subpart H). Changes in the manner in which states manage coastal uses and resources that affect approved CMPs must be reviewed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office for Coastal Management (NOAA-OCM). Program changes include changes to enforceable policies as well as changes to one or more of the following management program areas:

  • Uses subject to management.
  • Special management areas.
  • Boundaries.
  • Authorities and organization.
  • Coordination, public involvement and national interest.

Since NOAA's original approval of the New Hampshire Coastal Program (NHCP) in 1982, the NHCP has received approval for a number of program changes. Information regarding many of these changes is provided below.

Sun sets over an estuary On April 24, 2024, NOAA-OCM approved changes to the New Hampshire Coastal Program (NHCP) pertaining to the establishment of the NHCP in state statute.

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waves lap a beach at sunsetFebruary 2022 Program Change

On February 11, 2022, NOAA-OCM approved changes to the NHCP that pertain to the NHCP’s federal consistency review process for the siting of energy projects in New Hampshire’s coastal zone that require a federal license or permit.



beach vegetation in foreground, beach and ocean in background

 October 2019 Program Change

On October 29, 2019, NOAA-OCM approved changes to the NHCP that included minor, non-substantive revisions to NHCP's list of federally licensed or permitted activities subject to federal consistency review, pursuant to 15 C.F.R. Part 930, Subpart D (Consistency for Activities Requiring a Federal License or Permit) and revisions to a number of the NHCP's enforceable policies to incorporate “uses” of New Hampshire's coastal and estuarine resources. 

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beach grass in foreground, boats moored in harbor in background

February 2019 Program Change 

On February 25, 2019, NOAA-OCM approved a program change to the NHCP that involved modification of the NHCP's list of federal assistance programs subject to CZMA federal consistency review, pursuant to 15 C.F.R. Part 930, Subpart F (Consistency for Federal Assistance to State and Local Governments). Specifically, the program change pertained to the Federal Department of Transportation's Highway Planning and Construction Program (Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance #20.205). 

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