The connection is that you don't need to replace states in the closed list if the first path to a state is the cheapest. The consistency property guarantees this condition holds.Note that if your items in the closed list are just the nodes as is usually the case, then you can return to the closed list even if you don't have loops: e.g. if a node can be reached by more than one path
The first approach is optimal only if the optimal path to any repeated state is always the first to be followed. This property holds if the heuristic function has the property of consistency (also called monotonicity). A heuristic function is consistent if, for every node n and every successor n' of n, the estimated cost of reaching the goal from n is no greater than the step cost of getting to n' from n plus the estimated cost of reaching the goal from n.
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