After waiting nearly a year, it’s finally official — the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently published a long-anticipated final rule for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (Phase I ESAs). As of February 13, 2023, ASTM 1527-21 fulfills the “all appropriate inquiries” (AAI) requirement under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), becoming the relevant standard for conducting Phase I ESAs. It replaces ASTM E1527-13.

The ASTM E1527-21 standard identifies the confirmed presence, likely presence, or a material threat of the presence of hazardous substances or petroleum products at a real property. It also provides guidance on how to address emerging contaminants, such as PFAS, which are not yet listed as hazardous substances.

The EPA published the original final rule on March 14, 2022. It would have recognized both the ASTM E1527-13 and E1527-21 standards as satisfying AAI. However, they withdrew it seven weeks later, in response to industry objections that EPA recognition of both standards simultaneously would cause market confusion. The final rule recognizes that the E1527-21 standard constitutes current “good commercial and customary business practice.”

“We’re pleased that this has been settled,” said TriMedia Environmental Manager Ryan Whaley. “The next step is to spread the word and advise our customers and others in the industry that TriMedia has implemented the use of E1527-21 in order to provide the most up-to-date environmental due diligence services.”

Here’s what purchasers, developers, lenders, and others involved in commercial real estate transactions need to know:

  • The final rule was effective starting February 13 of this year, but environmental consultants can use either the old standard — ASTM E1527-13 — or the new standard until February 13, 2024.
  • After February 13, 2024, the E1527-13 standard will sunset and will no longer be recognized by EPA as satisfying AAI for Phase I ESAs. After that date, only 1527-21 will apply.

Want to learn more? Read a summary of the changes.