Federal Agencies With Regulatory or Research Responsibilities for Our Coasts

Federal Emergency Management Agency (independent Federal organization) administers the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which provides Federally subsidized insurance protection in many coastal and flood-prone areas of the United States. Making NFIP self-supporting and eliminating Federal subsidies are major goals.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (U.S. Department of Commerce) conducts studies of wetlands and coastal habitats that support marine resources; prepares nautical charts and geodetic surveys of coastal areas; monitors storm activities; operates an environmental satellite system; administers a grants program for marine research.

National Park Service (U.S. Department of the Interior) administers an extensive system of public lands, including lakeshores and seashores, set aside for the protection of natural environments, the preservation of historic properties, and the education and enjoyment of our citizens.

National Science Foundation (independent Federal organization) supports fundamental, long-term coastal research in the earth sciences and in engineering fields. This support is made through grants, contracts, and agreements awarded to universities and other research groups.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (U.S. Department of Defense) conducts applied research and development for design, construction, operation, and maintenance activities related to harbors, navigational waterways, and coastal protection. The Corps also administers laws for protecting navigable waters and related coastal resources such as wetlands.

U.S. Coast Guard (U.S. Department of Transportation) is responsible for enforcing laws related to the protection of marine environments; provides a national response center that investigates oil and chemical spills, initiates penalty actions, and monitors and coordinates cleanups.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (independent Federal agency) funds and conducts contaminant studies and related coastal research; regulates the discharge of coastal pollutants and the disposal of dredged sediments.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (U.S. Department of the Interior) manages extensive coastal lands as wildlife preserves; conducts research on coastal wetlands, fish and wildlife populations, and changes in habitat.

U.S. Geological Survey (U.S. Department of the Interior) conducts research on the geologic framework of coasts and on sediment-transport processes; collects and analyzes hydrologic data; makes topographic, geologic, and hydrologic maps of coastal areas; investigates ancient and modern coastal environments.

U.S. Minerals Management Service (U.S. Department of the Interior) studies the potential impact of offshore activities, including the placement and construction of petroleum pipelines, on coastal wetlands and resources; funds research through State geoscience agencies for identifying mineral resources in the coastal zone.

Natural Resources Conservation Service, formerly U.S. Soil Conservation Service (U.S. Department of Agriculture) carries out detailed soil surveys for coastal and wetland regions; identifies superior plant varieties for erosion control in coastal zones.

Further Reading . . . Coasts in Crisis. . . USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program
Maintained by J.M. Watson updated 10.01.12