NOTE: This blog has been updated with a more recent blog.

By Jeryl L. Olson

The U.S. EPA has published its approval of the updated ASTM Standard that is the basis for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) affirmative defenses.  Amendment to Standards and Practices for All Appropriate Inquiries, 78 Fed. Reg.  49690 (August 15, 2013). 

EPA published its approval of the “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process,” ASTM E1527-13, updating ASTM E1527-05.  The codification of the ASTM standards as the 40 CFR Part 312 (Innocent Landowners, Standards for Conducting All Appropriate Inquiries) EPA- approved method of performing environmental due diligence for purposes of establishing the innocent purchaser defenses and bona fide prospective purchaser defenses  has broad ramifications; even where the purpose of conducting environmental due diligence  is not to establish the basis for a future CERCLA defense,  the standard is so universally applied that it has become defacto the standard of environmental due diligence. 

There are no substantive differences between the 2005 and 2013 version of the ASTM Phase I due diligence standard, and therefore EPA has published the updated standard as a direct final rule.