Conducting environmental site assessments for large tracts of forested or rural lands presents a challenge to strict adherence to the ASTM Standard Method for Phase I environmental site assessments (ASTM E 1527-05).
Recognizing this, in December 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) issued a final rule amending the standards and practices for “All Appropriate Inquiries” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”). The amendments now allow the use of ASTM E2247-08 “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property.” The rule will benefit persons or entities purchasing large tracts of forested lands or large rural properties that may intend to claim landowner liability protections as innocent landowners, bona fide prospective purchasers, or contiguous property owners.
The rule applies to any entity conducting a site characterization or assessment on a large forested or rural property with a brownfields grant and will become effective on March 23, 2009. EPA also published a separate proposed rule proposing the same change to the All Appropriate Inquiries regulations.