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Policy Statement 162 - Coastal Development


Approved by the Energy, Environment, and Water Policy Committee on February 3, 2015 
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on May 18, 2015
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 18, 2015


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports:

  • Responsible use and sustainable development of coastal resources.
  • Conservation of habitat and wetland within coastal development areas
  • Protection of public health, safety, and welfare, and the environment appropriately addressed for all coastal projects
  • Development and implementation of emergency notification, flood risk management and evacuation plans as part of coastal projects
  • Effective regulations and streamlined regulatory processes for coastal development projects.
  • Partnering among federal, state, and local governments to adopt coastal development policies.


Sustainable development of coastal resources can embrace a wide range of activities such as development of oil, gas and minerals, wastewater disposal, fishing, recreation and conservation. Projects in coastal areas that could have been developed in a sustainable manner have had costly delays or have been abandoned due to the permitting processes. There is a need for an improved, streamlined regulatory process to identify the impact of proposed projects in a timely manner and to determine whether those impacts can be mitigated in a way that is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. 

An alternative approach to regulatory oversight could include, but not be limited to, creating a lead agency, much like the agency coordination process used for wetland permitting under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. The impact of recent hurricanes and continuing concern over climate change and its potential impact on ocean levels and coastal development reinforce the need for planning, practices, and regulation consistent with sustainable development principles.  


Civil engineers are responsible for the planning, design and operation of coastal facilities such as shore protection, drainage, water supply, transportation, structures and pipelines. Proper regulation of coastal development will result in sound conservation practices and protection of public health and the environment.  

ASCE Policy Statement 162
First Approved pre-1974

(See Policy Statement 545: Flood Risk Management)