"All Appropriate Inquiry" Under CERCLA


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) recently issued a proposed rule and a notice of future of rulemaking under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) regarding standards for “all appropriate inquiry,” which are important to a variety of businesses, especially those engaged in real estate transactions.  The recent Brownfields Amendments to CERCLA require EPA, among other things, to develop regulations within two years that will establish standards and practices necessary to conduct “all appropriate inquiry.” The Brownfields Amendments also establish interim standards until EPA promulgates the regulations.  Under CERCLA, a showing of “all appropriate inquiry” is a prerequisite to establishing both the innocent landowner defense and new bona fide prospective purchaser defense under CERCLA.

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