On January 10, 2013, Ed Schwartz made a presentation to the Real Estate Section of the Atlanta Bar Association regarding environmental issues in real estate transactions. Ed explained the various environmental laws that may impact the interests of a seller or purchaser of real property such as Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Georgia Hazardous Site Response Act (HSRA), which hold property owners responsible for environmental conditions on property regardless of their participation in causing those conditions); Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), regarding the management of waste and underground storage tanks), Clean Water Act (CWA), regarding property development implications for streams and wetlands, including soil and erosion control measures/best management practices; and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), regarding property development implications for the presence of a protected species.
Ed then addressed the tools that can be utilized by a competent environmental attorney to address these concerns including adequate pre-purchase due diligence; contractual risk allocation techniques such as indemnification agreements, release agreements, remediation agreements and environmental insurance; and statutory options such as the use of the Georgia Brownfields Program and the Voluntary Remediation Program; or any combination of these tools best suited to the needs of the client. Using examples from his own practice, Ed provided practical advice to assist sellers and purchasers in overcoming environmental obstacles in real estate transactions. The presentation was so well received that Ed was asked to provide a summary of the presentation to the Real Estate Section for publication in its quarterly newsletter.