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NOAA approves routine program changes to the Maine Coastal Program

Background: Select state land use and environmental laws and related agency rules serve as the core laws that provide the enforceable policies of the Maine Coastal Program. The federal Coastal Zone Management Act generally requires that federal agencies conduct their activities that are located in or may affect coastal uses or resources in Maine’s coastal area consistently with applicable enforceable policies. Examples of federal agency actions that may be subject to consistency review include Army Corps of Engineers maintenance dredging projects and construction projects on United States military bases. The Maine Guide to Federal Consistency Review outlines how the State reviews federal activities for consistency with the Maine Coastal Program’s enforceable policies.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management ("NOAA") must approve changes to the Maine Coastal Program and its enforceable policies. The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry's Bureau of Resource Information and Land Use Planning ("DACF"), which houses the Maine Coastal Program, periodically submits program changes to NOAA for its review and approval. These changes may be added to the Program as enforceable policies or tools to improve program administration and implementation.

Recently-approved routine program changes. In June 2014, DACF has submitted for NOAA’s review and approval changes and additions to the core laws that were enacted during the most recent state legislative session (Second Regular Session of the 126th Maine Legislature). These changes amend and supplement provisions of the Natural Resources Protection Act, Shoreland Zoning Act, and water quality, solid waste and oil spill clean-up-related laws which are included among the Maine Coastal Program's core laws. These recently enacted public laws are available on-line at: http://www.mainelegislature.org/ros/LOM/LOMDirectory.htm. The State's submission, which provides more detailed information about these routine program changes, also includes 38 M.R.S. §2101, a previously enacted law which is referenced in P.L. 2013 ch. 458, sec. 1.

By letter dated July 9, 2014, NOAA approved each of the above-noted submissions as routine program changes. These approved routine program changes are effective on August 1, 2014, the date of publication of this notice, if and as applicable, as enforceable policies for federal review consistency purposes. NOAA's July 9, 2014 decision letter as well as NOAA decision letters on prior program change requests may be viewed and downloaded.

For additional information, contact:
Aline Smith
Maine Coastal Program
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
Bureau of Resource Information and Land Use Planning
93 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0038

Regional Ocean Planning Process Underway

In July 2010, President Obama issued an Executive Order establishing a National Ocean Policy. The Policy aims at improving management of the country's oceans and coasts, forging improved coordination and cooperation among federal, state, and local governments, and encouraging and providing a framework for comprehensive, science-based, and regionally-focused planning regarding current and emerging uses of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes areas. Regional planning bodies are charged with developing ocean plans and related map-based information resources that may guide and inform public and private decision making on regionally-specific issues and opportunities.

The Northeast Regional Planning Body (RPB) is made up of state government representatives from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, federally-recognized Indian tribes, including the five such tribes in Maine, federal agencies, local government, and the New England Fisheries Management Council. Canada, through its Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the State of New York are represented by ex officio members. The commissioners of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) and Department of Marine Resources (DMR), or their designees, are Maine's representatives on the RPB. Commissioner Whitcomb has designated Maine Coastal Program Director Kathleen Leyden as his representative. Deputy Commissioner Meredith Mendelson represents DMR. The RPB's efforts build on existing regional ocean planning efforts of the Gulf of Maine Council and Northeast Regional Ocean Council.

The RPB held its first organizational meeting in April of 2012. Its work underway, the RPB recently hosted public meetings in Portland, Rockland, and Ellsworth to solicit comments on its proposed goals, which will provide the foundation for its ocean planning efforts. Overall, these goals reflect the RPB's fundamental focus on improving the quality and availability of regional-scale data on the marine environment and related uses and fostering cooperation and coordination among federal, state, local and tribal governmental agencies.

Visit the Northeast Regional Planning Body for more information on its meetings, planning process and timeline, and related topics or contact Matt Nixon (207) 287-1491 at the Maine Coastal Program.

Last updated on September 23, 2014