Monday, September 30, 2013 12:00 AM

Uncertain Status for Proposed EPA "All Appropriate Inquiry" Rule and ASTM E1527

By: Joseph Berlin, PE, EP, CP and Jeff Kenneweg, EP
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Uncertain Status for Proposed EPA “All Appropriate Inquiry” Rule and ASTM E1527

The current ASTM standard for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs), ASTM E1527-05, was last updated in 2005. As is required by ASTM International, all of its standards must be updated at least every eight (8) years or they automatically sunset.  Work on updating E1527-05 has been on-going for the past two years and the new Phase I ESA standard (E1527-13) is just about ready to roll out.  The E1527-13 standard was developed to reflect current practice and clarify some definitions and required components.

Concurrent with the update of the ASTM Phase I ESA standard EPA was also in the process of updating the "all appropriate inquiry" (AAI) rule.  However, contrary to the expectation that EPA would just adopt the updated (i.e., 2013_ ASTM Phase I ESA) standard by reference, EPA proposed that both the “new” (E1527-13) standard and the “old” (E1527-05) standard would satisfy AAI. This proposal is certainly confusing to the market. This is like some specification stating that it is acceptable to fulfill a contract with either an I-Phone that was built in 2005 or an I-Phone that was built in 2013.     

As one of my bank environmental risk managers often says: "whether it’s good or bad policy, I at minimum, seek consistency". The EPA proposal certainly violates this philosophy. Although EPA may believe that the market will adopt E1527-13, instead of E1527-05, as a good practice, a recent gathering of bank ERMs and consultants had a much different take on the EPA proposal. If past experience is a good indicator, the E1527-13 revision will not likely become commonly adopted or used in the market if the E-1527-05 version of the standard is still viable. Why would anybody do more than what the “standard” required that they had to do? This especially the case for smaller loans where consultants are often selected to conduct environmental due diligence based on their record of issuing a huge preponderance of "clean" Phase I ESA reports. For further discussion see:
Larry Schnapf's blog.

Please contact Joseph W. Berlin, PE, EP, CP at 616-459-3737 or Jeff Kenneweg, EP at 513-490-0664 with any questions. See also:


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