William and Mary Law School

Legal and Policy Challenges

Coasts are dynamic and complex places.  Not only do shorelines change and dunes shift but coastal uses – from recreational to environmental to commercial to national defense -- also greatly differ.  Accordingly, the legal and policy issues surrounding our coastal areas reflect this complex reality, involving property law, environmental law, administrative law, constitutional law, property law, and local government law.  Private property rights.  Wetlands protection.  Hazard mitigation.  Public access.  The list of legal questions that arise where our waters meet our lands is long and constantly evolving.

Virginia, for example, follows the Dillon Rule, which allows local governments to take action only if the General Assembly has delegated them the authority to do so.  This potentially impacts the extent to which local governments in Virginia may take action to adapt to recurrent flooding projections and sea level rise.

See more information in the 2008 Governor's Commission on Climate Change Final Report: A Climate Change Action Plan and the 2014 Virginia Accomplishments Since the 2008 Climate Action Plan Release

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