HB168, a bill to establish an affirmative defense to liability protections for prospective brownfields purchasers, unanimously passed the Legislature in May 2020 and was signed by the Governor in June 2020. The legislation will go into effect September 14, 2020.
HB168 fills a necessary gap in Ohio’s brownfields policy, and better aligns federal and state standards by incorporating the bona fide purchaser defense (BFPD) into Ohio law. With HB168’s passage, a purchaser of a brownfield can now follow federal guidelines under CERCLA to complete due diligence under the All Appropriate Inquires and assert the affirm defense of the BFPD at the state and federal level. The BFPD is self-certifying, and often does not require a full-blown cleanup of a brownfield site. HB168’s passage and the inclusion of the BFPD in Ohio law will likely encourage the redevelopment of lightly contaminated brownfields in the state. The Voluntary Action Program (VAP) still exists in state law and was unaffected by this legislation.
An informational webinar has been set for Wednesday, July 15th at 11:00 am ET. The Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) will be joined by Joe Koncelik (Tucker Ellis LLP) and Kristin Watt (Vorys, Seter, Seymour, and Pease LLP). Registration is required, and can be completed through this RSVP link.
GOPC stewarded HB168 through the legislative process. GOPC continues to advocate for statewide policy related to brownfields, which includes regulatory reform and dedicated funding for a statewide program. For more information on HB168, and GOPC’s legislation to re-fund the Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund, please visit their website.