EPA Revising its CERCLA All Appropriate Inquiry Rule

Texas Lawyer

Twelve years ago, the 2002 Brownfields Amendments to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) formalized three defenses to the statute’s strict landowner-based liability for hazardous substance contamination. The defenses,which apply to innocent purchasers, bona fide prospective purchasers and contiguous landowners, are keyed in part to the performance of “all appropriate inquiry” (AAI) into environmental conditions before acquiring commercial or industrial property.

By 2006, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations defined the requirements and elements of AAI and allowed purchasers to satisfy the AAI requirements by following ASTM’s 2005 Standard Practice for Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments, E1527-05.

The 2005 ASTM standard became the norm for phase 1 site assessments until ASTM issued an updated standard (ASTM E1527-13) in November 2013.

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