Ten Simple Rules of Avoiding Environmental Liability

Sirote & Permutt PC
Charles R. Driggars

June 8, 2015

There is virtually no business today that does not, to some degree, have the potential for liability under the myriad environmental laws; for many businesses, this potential is a daily concern. News stories concerning the indictments for environmental violations of individuals long known as respected members of the community are not uncommon and are a stark reminder of the serious, even potentially criminal, consequences that can arise from alleged noncompliance with environmental regulations. Frighteningly enough, this risk applies to responsible individuals who do their best to do their jobs; the complexity of environmental laws and the difficulty of their applicability in the “real world” make even the best-intentioned employer or employee at risk for such actions.

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Revised Phase I Environmental Standards Will Impact Property Acquisitions This Fall

Reed Smith, LLP
Todd O. Maiden, Tala S. Gardner & SueLyn Smith Athey

June 9, 2015

The All Appropriate Inquiries Rule (the “AAI Rule”), set forth at 40 CFR Part 312, serves as a benchmark protocol for inspecting a property’s environmental condition. If the benchmark is met, a prospective purchaser can be insulated from liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”). In order to satisfy the requirements of the AAI Rule, a prospective purchaser must be able to demonstrate satisfaction of certain industry standards promulgated by the American Society for Testing and Materials (“ASTM”). On December 20, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency approved ASTM Standard 1527-13 (the “Revised ASTM”), relating to Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (“Phase I Assessments”), as sufficient to satisfy the AAI Rule for protection under CERCLA. The EPA approval goes into effect on October 6, 2015. After this date, prospective purchasers of property must verify that all Phase I Assessments and related due diligence are performed in accordance with the Revised ASTM. The changes, discussed below, could impact the time and costs associated with due diligence, and prospective purchasers should start planning now.

Changes in Recognized Environmental Conditions

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EPA Takes Positions on Vapor Intrusion

Seyfarth Shaw LLP
Jeryl L. Olson & Craig B. Simonsen

June 16, 2015

In a busy day for vapor intrusion, last week the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency made several announcements about vapor intrusion.

First, it announced it had submitted a draft rule to the White House OMB seeking to add vapor intrusion to the pathways evaluated under the Hazard Ranking Scoring (HRS) System for National Priority List (NPL) Superfund sites.   Additionally, EPA published two new sets of technical guidance on assessing vapor intrusion. One guidance document has been prepared for assessing vapor intrusion from leaking petroleum underground storage tank sites, and the other guidance document is aimed at assessing vapor intrusion for sites with non-petroleum contamination.

Draft Rule on Assessing Vapor Intrusion as Part of Site Hazard Ranking

With respect to EPA’s draft rule adding assessment of vapor intrusion to the Hazard Ranking Scoring process, this is the Agency’s second effort at adding the vapor intrusion pathway to the other types of pathways which are already considered in evaluating and then listing a site on the National Priorities List. The same version of the rule was previously submitted to, but then withdrawn from, OMB consideration.

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New Developments in Federal Jurisdiction Over Our Nation’s Waters

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP
Carly Miller and Joel M. Kuehnert

June 8, 2015

On May 27, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Waters of the U.S. Final Rule under the Clean Water Act (CWA). This is an expansion by the Obama Administration of the federal protection of U.S. waterways and drinking water supplies. Many view this new rule as expanding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) and the EPA’s jurisdiction over waters that had not previously been considered “Waters of the U.S.,” and therefore subject to federal regulation.

President Obama announced this sweeping new regulation in an effort to restore the federal government’s authority to limit pollution in the nation’s rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands. This regulation is part of a broader effort by the Obama Administration to use executive authority to build a major environmental legacy, without requiring new legislation from Congress.

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