Brownfields All Appropriate Inquiries
"All Appropriate Inquiries," or AAI, is a process of evaluating a property's environmental conditions and assessing the likelihood of any contamination. Every Phase I assessment conducted with EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant funds must be conducted in compliance with the All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule at 40 CFR Part 312. The All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule provides that the ASTM E1527-05 and E1527-13 standards are consistent with the requirements of the final rule and may be used to comply with the provisions of the rule.
- General Guidelines on All Appropriate Inquiries
- Fact Sheet on EPA Brownfields Grants, CERCLA Liability, and All Appropriate Inquiries, April 2009
- All Appropriate Inquiries Fact Sheet, April 2003
The specific reporting requirements for all appropriate inquiries are provided in 40 CFR §312.21 (Results of Inquiry by an Environmental Professional) and §312.31 of the final rule and in §12 of ASTM E1527-05 and ASTM E1527-13. This fact sheet summarizes the required reporting requirements and provides a checklist to assist Brownfields grantees in assuring compliance with the provisions of the AAI final rule.
EPA published a final rule setting federal standards for the conduct of all appropriate inquiries. The rule was published in the Federal Register on November 1, 2005. The final rule and preamble is available below.
The final rule establishes specific regulatory requirements for conducting all appropriate inquiries into the previous ownership, uses, and environmental conditions of a property for the purposes of qualifying for certain landowner liability protections under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The final rule went into effect on November 1, 2006, one year following the date of publication.
As of November 1, 2006, parties must comply with the requirements of the All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule, or follow the standards set forth in the ASTM E1527-05 or ASTM E1527-13 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process, to satisfy the statutory requirements for conducting all appropriate inquiries. All appropriate inquiries must be conducted in compliance with either of these standards to obtain protection from potential liability under CERCLA as an innocent landowner, a contiguous property owner, or a bona fide prospective purchaser.
- Federal Register Notice, November 1, 2005
- Fact Sheet on All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule, November 2005
- Fact Sheet on Lender Liability and Applicability of AAI, April 2007
- Fact Sheet on Definition of Environmental Professional included in the Final Rule, November 2005
- Fact Sheet on Guidelines for Hiring an Environmental Professional, October 2006
- Fact Sheet on AAI Reporting Requirements, October 2006
The Small Business Liability Relief and Revitalization Act (the Brownfields Amendments) clarifies CERCLA liability provisions for certain landowners and potential property owners. The Brownfields Amendments provide liability protections for certain property owners, if the property owners comply with specific provisions outlined in the statute, including conducting all appropriate inquiries into present and past uses of the property and the potential presence of environmental contamination on the property. The Brownfields Amendments amend Section 101(35)(B) of CERCLA and require EPA to promulgate regulations that establish federal standards and practices for conducting all appropriate inquiries. The all appropriate inquiries standards and practices are relevant to:
- the innocent landowner defense to CERCLA liability (§101 (35));
- the contiguous property exemption to CERCLA liability (§107 (q));
- the bona fide prospective purchaser exemption to CERCLA liability (§107 (r)(1) and (§101 (40)); and
- the Brownfields site characterization and assessment grant programs (§104 (k)(2)).