Proposed All Appropriate Inquiries Rule
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a proposed direct-final rule on August 15, 2013 to amend the Standards and Practices for All Appropriate Inquiries to reference a standard practice recently made available by ASTM International. 78 FR 49690-49693 (Aug. 15, 2013) available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-08-15/pdf/2013-19763.pdf. On the same day, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a parallel-proposed rule, in the event it received adverse comments on the proposed direct-final rule. Available at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=EPA-HQ-SFUND-2013-0513-0001. The proposed direct-final rule will now be withdrawn since it drew negative comments.
Both rules amend the All Appropriate Inquiries Rule to reference ASTM International’s E1527-13 “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process” and allow for its use to satisfy the requirements for conducting all appropriate inquiries under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act. This new standard should provide additional clarity for those seeking to reduce CERCLA liability by choosing to use the newly referenced ASTM standard to perform all appropriate inquiries, including public and private parties who, as bona fide prospective purchasers, contiguous property owners, or innocent landowners, are purchasing potentially contaminated properties.
The agency will review the comments received and will consider the next course of action on the parallel-proposed rule.