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Policy Statement 162 - Protection and Development of Coastal Resources


Approved by the Energy, Environment, and Water Policy Committee on December 12, 2017
Approved by the Public Policy Committee on May 8, 2018
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 13, 2018


The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports:

  • Responsible use and sustainable development of coastal resources.
  • Conservation of habitat, wetlands, and other coastal resources within the coastal zone (upland, nearshore, and offshore).
  • Avoidance, minimization, and mitigation of impacts of coastal resources resulting from development within coastal zones.
  • Protection of public health, safety, welfare, and the environment for all coastal projects.
  • Development and implementation of coastal resource restoration projects.
  • Effective regulations and streamlined regulatory processes for coastal resource development projects.
  • Partnering among federal, state, and local governments to adopt coastal resource protection policies.
  • The Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA, Public Law 97-348), which restricts federal expenditures that tend to encourage development in identified fragile, high-risk, and ecologically sensitive coastal barriers. 


Sustainable development of coastal resources can include a wide range of activities such as development of oil, gas, minerals, and sand resources, while maintaining water quality, fishing, recreation, wetlands, and conservation. Projects in coastal areas sometimes experience costly delays or have been abandoned due to cumbersome permitting processes. The impact of recent hurricanes and continuing concern over climate change, its potential, and its impact on ocean levels and coastal development reinforce the need for planning, practices, and regulation consistent with sustainable development practices. There is a need for a streamlined regulatory process to identify the potential impacts of proposed development projects within the coastal zone 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.  


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)