ASTM Update: Public comments expected to delay AAI reference to current Phase I Standard for Forestland and Rural Properties
August 1, 2017 – Public comments expected to delay AAI reference to current Phase I Standard for Forestland and Rural Properties
This past June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed an amendment to the Standards and Practices for All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) under CERCLA to update the existing reference to ASTM International’s Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property. This amendment was issued as a Direct Final Rule that would have taken effect in mid-September if no adverse comments were received prior to the July 20 deadline for public comments.
After two public comments were received prior to the deadline, we reached out to EPA representative Patricia Overmeyer of the Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization. Ms. Overmeyer noted that EPA would most likely withdraw the rule, and then take some time to decide how to address the comments received. After that process, EPA could presumably move forward with a new direct final rule. The timetable for these EPA next steps was unknown at the time of HIG Insight publication.
Background Information: AAI currently states that two ASTM Standards can be used to satisfy the statutory requirements for conducting all appropriate inquiries under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA); ASTM E2247 Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property and the more well-known E1527-13 Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process. An ASTM Task Group updated the “Phase I for Rural Properties” over an approximate three year period with input from many professionals who use the standard and other stakeholders. The updated standard is designated E2247-16 as it was published by ASTM in December of 2016.
The publication of the revised standard, and ASTM’s request to EPA that it be referenced in AAI, coincided with a new administration that wanted time to review policies and pending regulations. By June of this year, EPA had completed review of the updated standard and found no significant differences between the regulatory requirements in the All Appropriate Inquiries Rule and E2247-16, and the Direct Final Rule for an amendment to AAI was issued. The Direct Final Rule, supporting documents, and the comments received may all be found on the government’s website for Proposed Rules and Notices from the Federal Register at https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=EPA-HQ-OLEM-2016-0786