EPA adopts final rule, effective February 13, 2023, establishing ASTM E1527-21 as the standard for satisfying AAI requirements and phasing out ASTM E1527-13.

By Aron Potash, Josh Marnitz, Phil Sandick, and Bruce Johnson

On December 15, 2022, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) amended its rule for conducting “All Appropriate Inquiries” (AAI) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) to incorporate a new standard for conducting Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (Phase I). Satisfying AAI is a critical step when acquiring or leasing real property. AAI is a prerequisite to certain safe harbors under CERCLA (and state analogues), which otherwise subjects property owners and operators to liability for investigating and remediating contamination regardless of fault.

When EPA’s final rule for conducting AAI (AAI rule) takes effect on February 13, 2023, it will allow for the use of the updated standard for conducting Phase Is recently published by ASTM International (ASTM) (i.e., ASTM E1527-21) when conducting AAI. One year after the final rule goes into effect, the previous Phase I standard, ASTM E1527-13, will no longer be sufficient to satisfy AAI. ASTM E1527-21 incorporates several changes that distinguish it from E1527-13, including expanding requirements for using historical sources, updating guidance on emerging contaminants, and expanding reporting requirements.