Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
EPA is proposing to amend the Standards and Practices for All Appropriate Inquiries to reference a standard practice recently made available by ASTM International, a widely recognized standards development organization. Specifically, EPA is proposing to amend the All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule to reference ASTM International's E2247-08 “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property” and allow for its use to satisfy the statutory requirements for conducting all appropriate inquiries under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). In the “Rules and Regulations” section of this Federal Register, EPA is amending the All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule to reference the ASTM E2247-08 Standard as a direct final rule without a prior proposed rule. If we receive no adverse comment, we will not take further action on this proposed rule.
Written comments must be received by January 22, 2009.
Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-SFUND-2008-0873 by one of the following methods:
- http://www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.
- E-mail: email@example.com.
- Fax: 202-566-9744.
- Mail: Superfund Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode: 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460. Please include a total of two copies.
- Hand Delivery: EPA Headquarters West Building, Room 3334, located at 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information. The EPA Headquarters Public Reading Room hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays.
Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-SFUND-2008-0873. Please reference Docket number EPA-HQ-SFUND-2008-0873 when submitting your comments.
EPA's policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at http://www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information claimed to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Do not submit information that you consider to be CBI or otherwise protected through http://www.regulations.gov or e-mail. The http://www.regulations.gov Web site is an “anonymous access” system, which means EPA will not know your identity or contact information unless you provide it in the body of your comment. If you send an e-mail comment directly to EPA without going through http://www.regulations.gov your e-mail address will be automatically captured and included as part of the comment that is placed in the public docket and made available on the Internet. If you submit an electronic comment, EPA recommends that you include your name and other contact information in the body of your comment and with any disk or CD-ROM you submit. If EPA cannot read your comment due to technical difficulties and cannot contact you for clarification, EPA may not be able to consider your comment. Electronic files should avoid the use of special characters, any form of encryption, and be free of any defects or viruses. For additional information about EPA's public docket visit the EPA Docket Center homepage at http://www.epa.gov/epahome/dockets.htm
Docket: You may use EPA Dockets at http://www.epa.gov/edocket/ to access the index listing of the contents of the official public docket, and to access those documents in the public docket that are available electronically. Once in the system, select “search,” then key in the docket identification number.
All documents in the docket are listed in the http://www.regulations.gov index. Certain types of information claimed as CBI, and other information whose Start Printed Page 78717disclosure is restricted by statute, will not be available for public viewing in EPA's electronic public docket. EPA's policy is that copyrighted material, such as ASTM Internationals' E2247-08 “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property” will not be placed in EPA's electronic public docket but will be publicly available only in printed form in the official public docket. Publicly available docket materials are available either electronically in http://www.regulations.gov or in hard copy at the HQ EPA Docket Center, EPA/DC, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, DC. The Public Reading Room at this docket facility is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding legal holidays. The telephone number for the Public Reading Room is (202) 566-1744, and the telephone number for the Superfund Docket is (202) 566-9744.Start Further Info
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:
For general information, contact the CERCLA Call Center at 800-424-9346 or TDD 800-553-7672 (hearing impaired). In the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, call 703-412-9810 or TDD 703-412-3323. For more detailed information on specific aspects of this rule, contact Patricia Overmeyer, Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization (5105T), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20460-0002, 202-566-2774, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today's action offers certain parties the option of using an available industry standard to conduct all appropriate inquiries at certain properties. Parties purchasing large tracts (greater than 120 acres) of forested land and parties purchasing large rural properties may use the ASTM E2247-08 standard practice to comply with the all appropriate inquiries requirements of CERCLA. Today's proposed rule will not require any entity to use this standard. Any party who wants to claim protection from liability under CERCLA may follow the regulatory requirement of the All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule at 40 CFR part 312, or use the ASTM E1527-05 Standard Practice for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments to comply with the all appropriate inquiries provision of CERCLA.
Entities potentially affected by this action, or who may choose to use the newly referenced ASTM standard to perform all appropriate inquiries, include public and private parties who, as bona fide prospective purchasers, contiguous property owners, or innocent landowners, are purchasing large tracts of forested lands or large rural properties and intend to claim a limitation on CERCLA liability in conjunction with the property purchase. In addition, any entity conducting a site characterization or assessment on a property that consists of large tracts of forested land or a large rural property with a brownfields grant awarded under CERCLA Section 104(k)(2)(B)(ii) may be affected by today's action. This includes state, local and Tribal governments that receive brownfields site assessment grants. A summary of the potentially affected industry sectors (by NAICS codes) is displayed in the table below.
|Industry category||NAICS code|
|Banking/ Real Estate Credit||52292|
|Environmental Consulting Services||54162|
|State, Local and Tribal Government||926110, 925120|
|Federal Government||925120, 921190, 924120|
The list of potentially affected entities in the above table may not be exhaustive. Our aim is to provide a guide for readers regarding those entities that EPA is aware potentially could be affected by this action. However, this action may affect other entities not listed in the table. If you have questions regarding the applicability of this action to a particular entity, consult the person listed in the preceding section entitled FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
Why Is EPA Issuing This Proposed Rule?
This document proposes to amend the All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule at 40 CFR part 312 to reference ASTM International's E2247-08 “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property” and allow for its use to satisfy the statutory requirements for conducting all appropriate inquiries under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). We have published a direct final rule amending the All Appropriate Inquiries regulations to reference the ASTM E2237-08 standard and allow for its use to comply with the final rule in the “Rules and Regulations” section of this Federal Register because we view this as a noncontroversial action and anticipate no adverse comment. We have explained our reasons for this action in the preamble to the direct final rule.
If we receive no adverse comment, we will not take further action on this proposed rule. If we receive adverse comment, we will withdraw the direct final rule and it will not take effect. We will address all public comments in any subsequent final rule based on this proposed rule. We do not intend to institute a second comment period on this action. Any parties interested in commenting must do so at this time. For further information, please see the information provided in the ADDRESSES section of this document.
I. Statutory Authority
III. This Action
IV. Administrative Requirements
I. Statutory Authority
EPA is proposing to amend the All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule that sets federal standards for the conduct of “all appropriate inquiries” at 40 CFR part 312. The All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule sets forth standards and practices necessary for fulfilling the requirements of CERCLA section 101(35)(B) as required to obtain CERCLA liability relief and for conducting site characterizations and assessments with the use of brownfields grants per CERCLA section 104(k)(2)(B)(ii).
On January 11, 2002, President Bush signed the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act (“the Brownfields Amendments”). In general, the Brownfields Start Printed Page 78718Amendments to CERCLA provide funds to assess and cleanup brownfields sites; clarifies CERCLA liability provisions related to innocent purchasers of contaminated properties; and provides funding to enhance State and Tribal cleanup programs. In part, subtitle B of the Brownfields Amendments revises some of the provisions of CERCLA section 101(35) and limits Superfund liability under section 107 for bona fide prospective purchasers and contiguous property owners, in addition to clarifying the requirements necessary to establish the innocent landowner defense under CERCLA. The Brownfields Amendments clarified the requirement that parties purchasing potentially contaminated property undertake “all appropriate inquiries” into prior ownership and use of property prior to purchasing the property to qualify for protection from CERCLA liability.
The Brownfields Amendments required EPA to develop regulations establishing standards and practices for how to conduct all appropriate inquiries. EPA promulgated regulations that set standards and practices for all appropriate inquiries on November 1, 2005 (70 FR 66070). In the final regulation, EPA referenced, and recognized as compliant with the final rule, the ASTM E1527-05 “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Standard Process.” Therefore, the final rule (40 CFR part 312) allows for the use of the ASTM E1527-05 standard to conduct all appropriate inquiries, in lieu of following requirements included in the final rule.
Since EPA promulgated the All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule setting standards and practices for the conduct of all appropriate inquiries, ASTM International published a new Phase I site assessment standard specifically tailored to conducting site assessments of large tracts of rural and forestland property. This standard, ASTM E2247-08, “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property,” was reviewed by EPA, in response to a request for its review by ASTM International, and determined by EPA to be compliant with the requirements of the All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule.
With today's action, EPA is proposing to amend the All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule to allow for the use of the recently revised ASTM standard, E2247-08, for conducting all appropriate inquiries, as required under CERCLA for establishing the innocent landowner defense, as well as qualifying for the bona fide prospective purchaser and contiguous property owner liability protections.
With today's action, EPA is proposing to establish that, parties seeking liability relief under CERCLA's landowner liability protections, as well as recipients of brownfields grants for conducting site assessments, will be considered to be in compliance with the requirements for all appropriate inquiries, as required in the Brownfields Amendments to CERCLA, if such parties comply with the procedures provided in the ASTM E2247-08, “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property.” EPA determined that it is reasonable to make this determination based upon the Agency's finding that the ASTM E2247-08 standard is compliant with the all appropriate inquiries regulation. The Agency notes that today's action will not require any party to use the ASTM E2247-08 standard. Any party conducting all appropriate inquiries to comply with the CERCLA requirements at section 101(35)(B) for the innocent land defense, the contiguous property owner liability protection, or the bona fide prospective purchaser liability protection may continue to follow the provisions of the All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule at 40 CFR part 312 or use the ASTM E1527-05 Standard.
In proposing today's action, the Agency is allowing for the use of an additional recognized standard or customary business practice, to comply with a federal regulation. Today's proposed action does not require any person to use the newly recognized standard. Today's proposed action merely will allow for the use of the ASTM E2247-08 “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property” for those parties purchasing relatively large tracts of rural property or forestlands who want to use the ASTM E2247-08 standard in lieu of the following specific requirements of the All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule or the ASTM E1527-05 standard.
The Agency notes that there are no significant differences between the regulatory requirements and the two ASTM standards. To facilitate an understanding of the slight differences between the All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule, the ASTM E1527-05 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Standard and the ASTM E2247-08 “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property,” as well as the applicability of the E2247-08 standard for certain types of properties, EPA developed, and placed in the docket for today's proposed action, the document “Comparison of All Appropriate Inquiries Regulation and ASTM E2247-08 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process or Forestland or Rural Property.” The document provides a cross walk between the federal regulation and the two ASTM standards.
By proposing today's action, EPA is fulfilling the intent and requirements of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA).
III. This Action
EPA is proposing this action because the Agency wants to provide additional flexibility for brownfields grant recipients or other entities that may benefit from the use of the ASTM E2247-08 standard. We believe that today's proposed action will allow for the use of a tailored standard developed by a recognized standards developing organization and that was reviewed by EPA and determined to be equivalent to the Agency's final rule. Today's action does not disallow the use of the previously recognized standard (ASTM E1527-05) and it will not alter the requirements of the previously promulgated final rule. In addition, today's proposal potentially will increase flexibility for some parties who may make use of the new standard, without placing any additional burden on those parties who prefer to use either the ASTM E1527-05 standard or follow the requirements of the All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule when conducting all appropriate inquiries.
IV. Administrative Requirements
A. Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Planning and Review
This proposed action is not a “significant regulatory action” under the terms of Executive Order (EO) 12866, entitled “Regulatory Planning and Review” (58 FR 51735 (October 4, 1993)) and is therefore not subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget under the EO.
B. Paperwork Reduction Act
This proposed action includes no information collection requirements and therefore no associated burdens. The proposed action will not result in any change to the current regulation other than to allow for the use of an additional standard. Start Printed Page 78719
C. Regulatory Flexibility Act
Today's proposed action is not subject to the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), which generally requires an agency to prepare a regulatory flexibility analysis for any rule that will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). Although the proposed rule is subject to the APA, the Agency has invoked the “good cause” exemption under 5 U.S.C. 553(b), therefore it is not subject to the notice and comment requirements under the APA or any other statute. Today's action does not change the current regulatory status quo and it has no economic impact. Therefore, it is not subject to the regulatory flexibility provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Act.
D. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act
This proposed rule does not contain a Federal mandate that may result in expenditures of $100 million or more for State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or the private sector in any one year. This action merely proposes to allow for the use of a voluntary consensus standard. This action would not require the newly recognized standard be used by any entity. The proposed rule includes no new regulatory requirements and will result in no additional burden to any entity. Thus, this proposed rule is not subject to the requirements of sections 202 or 205 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. This proposed rule is also not subject to the requirements of section 203 of UMRA because it contains no regulatory requirements that might significantly or uniquely affect small governments. This proposed action imposes no enforceable duty on any State, local or tribal governments or the private sector.
E. Executive Order 13132: Federalism
Executive Order 13132, entitled “Federalism” (64 FR 43255 (August 10, 1999)), requires EPA to develop an accountable process to ensure “meaningful and timely input by State and local officials in the development of regulatory policies that have federalism implications.” “Policies that have federalism implications” is defined in the EO to include regulations that have “substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government.”
This proposed rule does not have federalism implications. It will not result in substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between the national government and the States, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities among the various levels of government, as specified in EO 13132. Thus, EO 13132 does not apply to this rule.
F. Executive Order 13175: Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments
This action does not have tribal implications, as specified in EO 13175 (65 FR 67249, (November 9, 2000)). Today's action does not change any current regulatory requirements and therefore does not impose any impacts upon tribal entities. Thus, EO 13175 does not apply to this action.
G. Executive Order 13045: Protection of Children From Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks
This action is not subject to EO 13045 (62 F.R. 19885, (April 23, 1997)) because it is not economically significant as defined in EO 12866, and EPA interprets EO 13045 (62 FR 19885, (April 23, 1997)) as applying only to those regulatory actions that concern health or safety risks, such that the analysis required under section 5-501 of the EO has the potential to influence the regulation. This action is not subject to EO 13045 because it does not establish an environmental standard intended to mitigate health or safety risks.
H. Executive Order 13211: Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use
I. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act
Section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (“NTTAA”), Public Law No. 104-113, 12(d) (15 U.S.C. 272 note) directs EPA to use voluntary consensus standards in its regulatory activities unless to do so would be inconsistent with applicable law or otherwise impractical. Voluntary consensus standards are technical standards (e.g., materials specifications, test methods, sampling procedures, and business practices) that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies. NTTAA directs EPA to provide Congress, through OMB, explanations when the Agency decides not to use available and applicable voluntary consensus standards.
This action does involve technical standards. Therefore, the requirements of section 12(d) of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 (15 U.S.C. 272) apply. The NTTAA was signed into law on March 7, 1996 and, among other things, directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to bring together federal agencies as well as state and local governments to achieve greater reliance on voluntary standards and decreased dependence on in-house standards. It states that use of such standards, whenever practicable and appropriate, is intended to achieve the following goals: (a) Eliminate the cost to the government of developing its own standards and decrease the cost of goods procured and the burden of complying with agency regulation; (b) provide incentives and opportunities to establish standards that serve national needs; (c) encourage long-term growth for U.S. enterprises and promote efficiency and economic competition through harmonization of standards; and (d) further the policy of reliance upon the private sector to supply Government needs for goods and services. The Act requires that federal agencies adopt private sector standards, particularly those developed by standards developing organizations (SDOs), wherever possible in lieu of creating proprietary, non-consensus standards.
Today's proposed action is compliant with the spirit and requirements of the NTTAA. Today's proposed action allows for the use of the ASTM International standard known as Standard E2247-08 and entitled “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property.”
J. Executive Order 12898: Federal Actions To Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations
Executive Order (EO) 12898 (59 FR 7629 (Feb. 16, 1994)) establishes federal executive policy on environmental justice. Its main provision directs federal agencies, to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, to make environmental justice part of their mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations in the United States.
EPA has determined that this proposed rule will not have disproportionately high and adverse Start Printed Page 78720human health or environmental effects on minority or low-income populations because it does not affect the level of protection provided to human health or the environment. Today's proposed action will not change any regulatory requirements or impose any new requirements.Start List of Subjects
List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 312End List of Subjects Start Signature
Dated: December 17, 2008.
Stephen L. Johnson,
[FR Doc. E8-30537 Filed 12-22-08; 8:45 am]
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