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Ten Takeaways from EBA June 2014

Entry by JoeDerhake


The Environmental Bankers Association’s June meeting in Seattle just wrapped up last week.  EBA continued its 20th anniversary celebration with great content as always and lively discussion on how our industry and EBA are changing and moving forward.


Here are 10 takeaway points:

1)      Vapor Intrusion Regulatory Drivers:  Richard Opper put up a great slide showing the wide variation in benzene action levels from state to state.  The point was that our society has not decided what an acceptable health risk is.  He also contrasted risk from low levels of vapor intrusion with the carcinogenic risk associated with peanut butter.  


2)      Vapor Intrusion Legal Drivers:  Fred Dindoffer explored how a tort suit can outweigh regulatory demands – even if a site is cleaned up to regulatory standards, a jury could still be convinced that there’s a problem or at least uncertainty about whether there’s a problem. 


3)      In my presentation I shared a large survey on what commercial real estate professionals think of due diligence.  By the way, CRE professionals consider the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment the most important third party report!


4)      Mitigation Systems:  Wilson Clayton showed a graph on the effectiveness of various remediation technologies, but noted that the proper application of the selected technology can make much more of a difference than which technology you choose.  Sigrida Reinis emphasized how critical it is to involve the design engineer for the vapor mitigation system throughout the entire construction process to ensure the system isn’t made ineffective by unapproved change orders. 


5)      Dan Peltz advised us on how to best purchase environmental insurance – you can’t just purchase a policy “off the shelf.”


6)      Bill Tryon offered an idea that we could discuss materiality in a more structured and consistent way to help our clients digest a REC in more business friendly way.


7)      New Bank Regulatory Concerns:  There was some discussion on the OCC’s increased focus on banks’ vendor management and auditing, and on their consultants’ financial strength and data security.  Julie Kilgore commented that unsolicited, borrower-supplied report providers don’t have to meet these high standards – should they?  Also noted was the regulatory impact on appraisals: bankers noted a couple recent occasions where the appraiser came back and said “there’s a significant environmental issue at the site – I need to see the Phase I ESA before I go on.”


8)      EDR’s head of R&D Richard White presented the concept of an app for Google Glass called “EDR Toxic Site Compass” that would give the Phase I ESA assessor a compass for contaminated sites while out in the field – neat idea.


9)      Affiliate members prepared to elect two affiliates to the EBA Board of Governors.  Several affiliates got up on their soap box and gave compelling visions for how EBA could be better.


10)      We took a very entertaining Duck Boat Tour of the Emerald City on Sunday….great fun as always.



EBA, Environmental Bankers Association, Vapor Intrusion, Vapor Mitigation System, Remediation Technologies, Phase I ESA, Phase I Environmental Site Assessment