- The Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 requires a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers for structures, such as piers and docks, in waters of the United States.
- The Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 established federal guidelines to preserve, protect, develop, and restore the resources of the nation’s coastal zone. The plans must address beach access, wetland protection, erosion controls, ocean pollution, and siting of pipelines. As incentives to coastal states and territories to develop coastal management plans, the act allows states to receive federal grants under the program once coastal management plans are approved.
- The Clean Water Act of 1972 (and subsequent amendments) regulates discharges into U.S. waters and established a wetlands protection program.
- The Coastal Barrier Resources Act of 1982 directed the Secretary of the Interior to establish the Coastal Barrier Resource System nationwide and to limit federal spending in designated coastal-barrier resource areas. (Coastal barriers are beaches, dunes, wetlands, and barrier islands.) For example, in order to protect these environmentally fragile areas, the law prohibits undeveloped lands in the barrier system from receiving federal flood insurance for new development.
- In 2000, Congress enacted that Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act of 2000 (BEACH Act). The Act is to protect the public health of our beaches’ sand requires that states cooperate with the Environmental Protection Agency to develop and implement a program to monitor beach recreation and to notify the public if water quality standards are exceeded. In Texas, the General Land Office is responsible to enact the BEACH Act.
Significant State Coastal Legislation
- The Open Beaches Act of 1959, amended in 1991, guarantees the public’s right of free and unrestricted access to the “public beach.” It requires the commissioner of the Texas General Land Office to develop rules protecting the public’s right to use and enjoy Texas beaches.
- The Coastal Coordination Act of 1977, amended in 1989, 1991, 1995, and 1997, directed the GLO to coordinate with other state agencies on the development of a long-term plan for the management of activities affecting coastal resources. The act also created the Coastal Coordination Council and established the larger framework for the Texas Coastal Management Plan.
- The Dune Protection Act of 1973, amended in 1991, requires coastal counties to establish a program to protect dunes within their jurisdiction. The act directed the GLO to establish minimum requirements.*