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Title 30Chapter VIISubchapter B → Part 723


Title 30: Mineral Resources


PART 723—CIVIL PENALTIES


Contents
§723.1   Scope.
§723.2   Objective.
§723.11   How assessments are made.
§723.12   When penalty will be assessed.
§723.13   Point system for penalties.
§723.14   Determination of amount of penalty.
§723.15   Assessment of separate violations for each day.
§723.16   Waiver of use of formula to determine civil penalty.
§723.17   Procedures for assessment of civil penalties.
§723.18   Procedures for assessment conference.
§723.19   Request for hearing.
§723.20   Final assessment and payment of penalty.

Authority: 28 U.S.C. 2461, 30 U.S.C. 1201 et seq., and 31 U.S.C. 3701.

Source: 45 FR 58783, Sept. 4, 1980, unless otherwise noted.

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§723.1   Scope.

This part covers the assessment of civil penalties under section 518 of the Act for violations of a permit condition, any provision of Title V of the Act, or any implementing regulations, except for the assessment of individual civil penalties under section 518(f), which is covered by part 724. This part governs when a civil penalty is assessed and how the amount is determined, and sets forth applicable procedures. This part applies to cessation orders and notices of violation issued under part 722 of this chapter during a Federal inspection.

[53 FR 3674, Feb. 8, 1988]

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§723.2   Objective.

Civil penalties are assessed under section 518 of the Act and this part to deter violations and to ensure maximum compliance with the terms and purpose of the Act on the part of the coal mining industry.

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§723.11   How assessments are made.

The Office shall review each notice of violation and cessation order in accordance with the assessment procedures described in §§723.12, 723.13, 723.14, 723.15, and 723.16 to determine whether a civil penalty will be assessed, the amount of the penalty, and whether each day of a continuing violation will be deemed a separate violation for purposes of the total penalty assessed.

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§723.12   When penalty will be assessed.

(a) The Office shall assess a penalty for each cessation order.

(b) The Office shall assess a penalty for each notice of violation, if the violation is assigned 31 points or more under the point system described in §723.13.

(c) The Office may assess a penalty for each notice of violation assigned 30 points or less under the point system described in §723.13. In determining whether to assess a penalty, the Office shall consider the factors listed in §723.13(b).

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§723.13   Point system for penalties.

(a) The Office shall use the point system described in this section to determine the amount of the penalty and, in the case of notices of violation, whether a mandatory penalty should be assessed as provided in §723.12(b).

(b) Points shall be assigned as follows:

(1) History of previous violations. The Office shall assign up to 30 points based on the history of previous violations. One point shall be assigned for each past violation contained in a notice of violations. Five points shall be assigned for each violation (but not a condition or practice) contained in a cessation order. The history of previous violations for the purpose of assigning points, shall be determined and the points assigned with respect to a particular surface coal mining operation. Points shall be assigned as follows:

(i) A violation shall not be counted if the notice or order is the subject of pending administrative or judicial review or if the time to request such review or to appeal any administrative or judicial decision has not expired, and thereafter it shall be counted for only one year.

(ii) No violation for which the notice or order has been vacated shall be counted; and

(iii) Each violation shall be counted without regard to whether it led to a civil penalty assessment.

(2) Seriousness. The Office shall assign up to 30 points based on the seriousness of the violation, as follows:

(i) Probability of occurrence. The Office shall assign up to 15 points based on the probability of the occurrence of the event which a violated standard is designed to prevent. Points shall be assessed according to the following schedule:

Probability of Occurrence

   Points
None0
Insignificant1-4
Unlikely5-9
Likely10-14
Occurred15

(ii) Extent of potential or actual damage. The Office shall assign up to 15 points, based on the extent of the potential or actual damage, in terms of area and impact on the public or environment, as follows:

(A) If the damage or impact which the violated standard is designed to prevent would remain within the permit area, the Office shall assign zero to seven points, depending on the duration and extent of the damage or impact.

(B) If the damage or impact which the violated standard is designed to prevent would extend outside the permit area, the Office shall assign eight to fifteen points, depending on the duration and extent of the damage or impact.

(iii) Alternative. In the case of a violation of an administrative requirement, such as a requirement to keep records, the Office shall, in lieu of paragraphs (i) and (ii), assign up to 15 points for seriousness, based upon the extent to which enforcement is obstructed by the violation.

(3) Negligence. (i) The Office shall assign up to 25 points based on the degree of fault of the person to whom the notice or order was issued in causing or failing to correct the violation, condition, or practice which led to the notice or order, either through act or omission. Points shall be assessed as follows:

(A) A violation which occurs through no negligence shall be assigned no penalty points for negligence;

(B) A violation which is caused by negligence shall be assigned 12 points or less, depending on the degree of negligence;

(C) A violation which occurs through a greater degree of fault than negligence shall be assigned 13 to 25 points, depending on the degree of fault.

(ii) In determining the degree of negligence involved in a violation and the number of points to be assigned, the following definitions apply:

(A) No negligence means an inadvertent violation which was unavoidable by the exercise of reasonable care.

(B) Negligence means the failure of a permittee to prevent the occurrence of any violation of his or her permit or any requirement of the Act or this chapter due to indifference, lack of diligence, or lack of reasonable care, or the failure to abate any violation of such permit or the Act due to indifference, lack of diligence, or lack of reasonable care.

(C) A greater degree of fault than negligence means reckless, knowing, or intentional conduct.

(iii) In calculating points to be assigned for negligence, the acts of all persons working on the surface coal mining and reclamation site shall be attributed to the person to whom the notice or order was issued, unless than person establishes that they were acts of deliberate sabotage.

(4) Good faith in attemping to achieve compliance. (i) The Office shall add points based on the degree of good faith of the person to whom the notice or order was issued in attempting to achieve rapid compliance after notification of the violation. Points shall be assigned as follows:

Degree of Good Faith

   Points
Rapid compliance−1 to −10
Normal compliance0

(ii) The following definitions shall apply under paragraph (b)(4)(i) of this section:

(A) Rapid compliance means that the person to whom the notice or order was issued took extraordinary measures to abate the violation in the shortest possible time and that abatement was achieved before the time set for abatement.

(B) Normal compliance means the person to whom the notice or order was issued abated the violation within the time given for abatement.

(iii) If the consideration of this criterion is impractical because of the length of the abatement period, the assessment may be made without considering this criterion and may be reassessed after the violation has been abated.

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§723.14   Determination of amount of penalty.

The Office shall determine the amount of any civil penalty by converting the total number of points assigned under 30 CFR 723.13 to a dollar amount, according to the following schedule:

PointsDollars
168
2137
3206
4274
5342
6411
7479
8546
9616
10685
11752
12821
13888
14958
151,028
161,095
171,163
181,233
191,301
201,369
211,438
221,506
231,574
241,642
251,711
262,054
272,396
282,736
292,949
303,423
313,764
324,106
334,449
344,791
355,133
365,475
375,819
386,160
396,502
406,843
417,188
427,529
437,870
448,213
458,555
468,898
479,239
489,583
499,924
5010,266
5110,607
5210,952
5311,294
5411,635
5511,979
5612,320
5712,661
5813,003
5913,347
6013,688
6114,030
6214,373
6314,716
6415,058
6515,399
6615,743
6716,084
6816,426
6916,768
7017,112

[45 FR 58783, Sept. 4, 1980, as amended at 62 FR 63276, Nov. 28, 1997; 66 FR 58646, Nov. 21, 2001; 70 FR 70700, Nov. 22, 2005; 74 FR 34492, July 15, 2009; 79 FR 18447, Apr. 2, 2014; 81 FR 44540, July 8, 2016; 82 FR 9353, Feb. 6, 2017; 83 FR 10615, Mar. 12, 2018; 84 FR 10675, Mar. 22, 2019; 85 FR 20835, Apr. 15, 2020]

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§723.15   Assessment of separate violations for each day.

(a) The Office may assess separately a civil penalty for each day from the date of issuance of the notice of violation or cessation order to the date set for abatement of the violation. In determining whether to make such an assessment, the Office shall consider the factors listed in 30 CFR 723.13 and may consider the extent to which the person to whom the notice or order was issued gained any economic benefit as a result of a failure to comply. For any violation which continues for two or more days and which is assigned more than 70 points under 30 CFR 723.13(b), the Office shall assess a civil penalty for a minimum of two separate days.

(b) In addition to the civil penalty provided for in paragraph (a) of this section, whenever a violation contained in a notice of violation or cessation order has not been abated within the abatement period set in the notice or order or as subsequently extended pursuant to section 521(a) of the Act, 30 U.S.C. 1271(a), a civil penalty of not less than $2,566 will be assessed for each day during which such failure to abate continues, except that:

(1)(i) If suspension of the abatement requirements of the notice or order is ordered in a temporary relief proceeding under section 525(c) of the Act, after a determination that the person to whom the notice or order was issued will suffer irreparable loss or damage from the application of the requirements, the period permitted for abatement shall not end until the date on which the Office of Hearing and Appeals issues a final order with respect to the violation in question; and

(ii) If the person to whom the notice or order was issued initiates review proceedings under section 526 of the Act with respect to the violation, in which the obligations to abate are suspended by the court pursuant to section 526(c) of the Act, the daily assessment of a penalty shall not be made for any period before entry of a final order by the court.

(2) Such penalty for the failure to abate a violation shall not be assessed for more than 30 days for such violation. If the permittee has not abated the violation within the 30-day period, the Office shall take appropriate action pursuant to sections 518(e), 518(f), 521(a)(4) or 521(c) of the Act within 30 days to ensure that abatement occurs or to ensure that there will not be a reoccurrence of the failure to abate.

[45 FR 58783, Sept. 4, 1980, as amended at 62 FR 63276, Nov. 28, 1997; 66 FR 58647, Nov. 21, 2001; 70 FR 70700, Nov. 22, 2005; 81 FR 44540, July 8, 2016; 82 FR 9354, Feb. 6, 2017; 83 FR 10616, Mar. 12, 2018; 84 FR 10675, Mar. 22, 2019; 85 FR 20835, Apr. 15, 2020]

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§723.16   Waiver of use of formula to determine civil penalty.

(a) The Director, upon his own initiative or upon written request received within 15 days of issuance of a notice of violation or a cessation order, may waive the use of formula contained in 30 CFR 723.13 to set the civil penalty, if he or she determines that, taking into account exceptional factors present in the particular case, the penalty is demonstrably unjust. However, the Director shall not waive the use of the formula or reduce the proposed assessment on the basis of an argument that a reduction in the proposed penalty could be used to abate violations of the Act, this chapter, any applicable program, or any condition of any permit or exploration approval. The basis for every waiver shall be fully explained and documented in the records of the case.

(b) If the Director waives the use of the formula, he or she shall use the criteria set forth in 30 CFR 723.13(b) to determine the appropriate penalty. When the Director has elected to waive the use of the formula, he or she shall give a written explanation of the basis for the assessment made to the person to whom the notice or order was issued.

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§723.17   Procedures for assessment of civil penalties.

(a) Within 15 days of service of a notice or order, the person to whom it was issued may submit written information about the violation to the Office and to the inspector who issued the notice of violation or cessation order. The Office shall consider any information so submitted in determining the facts surrounding the violation and the amount of the penalty.

(b) The Office shall serve a copy of the proposed assessment and of the work sheet showing the computation of the proposed assessment on the person to whom the notice or order was issued, by certified mail, or by any alternative means consistent with the rules governing service of a summons and complaint under Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, within 30 days of the issuance of the notice or order. If a copy of the proposed assessment and work sheet or the certified mail is tendered at the address of that person set forth in the sign required under 30 CFR 715.12(b) or at any address at which that person is in fact located, and he or she refuses to accept delivery or to collect such documents, the requirements of this paragraph shall be deemed to have been complied with upon such tender.

(c) Unless a conference has been requested, the Office shall review and reassess any penalty if necessary to consider facts which were not reasonably available on the date of issuance of the proposed assessment because of the length of the abatement period. The Office shall serve a copy of any such reassessment and of the worksheet showing the computation of the reassessment in the manner provided in paragraph (b) of this section, within 30 days after the date the violation is abated.

[45 FR 58783, Sept. 4, 1980, as amended at 56 FR 28445, June 20, 1991]

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§723.18   Procedures for assessment conference.

(a) The Office shall arrange for a conference to review the proposed assessment or reassessment, upon written request of the person to whom the notice or order was issued, if the request is received within 30 days from the date the proposed assessment or reassessment is received.

(b)(1) The Office shall assign a conference officer to hold the assessment conference. The assessment conference shall not be governed by section 554 of title 5 of the United States Code, regarding requirements for formal adjudicatory hearings. The assessment conference shall be held within 60 days from the date the conference request is received or the end of the abatement period, whichever is later.

(2) The Office shall post notice of the time and place of the conference at the regional, district or field office closest to the mine at least 5 days before the conference. Any person shall have a right to attend and participate in the conference.

(3) The conference officer shall consider all relevant information on the violation. Within 30 days after the conference is held, the conference officer shall either:

(i) Settle the issues, in which case a settlement agreement shall be prepared and signed by the conference officer on behalf of the Office and by the person assessed; or

(ii) Affirm, raise, lower, or vacate the penalty.

(4) An increase or reduction of a proposed civil penalty assessment of more than 25 percent and more than $500 shall not be final and binding on the Secretary, until approved by the Director or his designee.

(c) The conference officer shall promptly serve the person assessed with a notice of his or her action in the manner provided in 30 CFR 723.17(b) and shall include a worksheet if the penalty has been raised or lowered. The reasons for the conference officer's action shall be fully documented in the file.

(d)(1) If a settlement agreement is entered into, the person assessed will be deemed to have waived all rights to further review of the violation or penalty in question, except as otherwise expressly provided for in the settlement agreement. The settlement agreement shall contain a clause to this effect.

(2) If full payment of the amount specified in the settlement agreement is not received by the Office within 30 days after the date of signing, the Office may enforce the agreement or rescind it and proceed according to paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this section within 30 days from the date of the rescission.

(e) The conference officer may terminate the conference when he determines that the issues cannot be resolved or that the person assessed is not diligently working toward resolution of the issues.

[45 FR 58783, Sept. 4, 1980, as amended at 53 FR 3674, Feb. 8, 1988; 56 FR 10063, Mar. 8, 1991]

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§723.19   Request for hearing.

(a) The person charged with the violation may contest the proposed penalty or the fact of the violation by submitting a petition and an amount equal to the proposed penalty or, if a conference has been held, the reassessed or affirmed penalty to the Office of Hearings and Appeals (to be held in escrow as provided in paragraph (b) of this section) within 30 days from receipt of the proposed assessment or reassessment or 30 days from the date of service of the conference officer's action, whichever is later. The fact of the violation may not be contested, if it has been decided in a review proceeding commenced under section 525 of the Act and 43 CFR part 4.

(b) The Office of Hearings and Appeals shall transfer all funds submitted under paragraph (a) of this section to the Office, which shall hold them in escrow pending completion of the administrative and judicial review process, at which time it shall disburse them as provided in 30 CFR 723.20.

[45 FR 58783, Sept. 4, 1980, as amended at 56 FR 10063, Mar. 8, 1991]

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§723.20   Final assessment and payment of penalty.

(a) If the person to whom a notice of violation or cessation order is issued fails to request a hearing as provided in 30 CFR 723.19, the proposed assessment shall become a final order of the Secretary and the penalty assessed shall become due and payable upon expiration of the time allowed to request a hearing.

(b) If any party requests judicial review of a final order of the Secretary, the proposed penalty shall continue to be held in escrow until completion of the review. Otherwise, subject to paragraph (c) of this section, the escrowed funds shall be transferred to the Office in payment of the penalty, and the escrow shall end.

(c) If the final decision in the administrative and judicial review results in an order or eliminating the proposed penalty assessed under this part, the Office shall within 30 days of receipt of the order refund to the person assessed all or part of the escrowed account, with interest from the date of payment into escrow to the date of the refund at the rate of 6 percent or at the prevailing Department of the Treasury rate, whichever is greater.

(d) If the review results in an order increasing the penalty, the person to whom the notice or order was issued shall pay the difference to the Office within 15 days after the order is mailed to such person.

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