47 FR 35640, Aug. 16, 1982, unless otherwise noted.
This part covers the assessment of civil penalties under section 518 of the Act with respect to cessation orders and notices of violation issued under part 843 (Federal Enforcement), except for the assessment of individual civil penalties under section 518(f), which is covered in part 846.
[53 FR 3675, Feb. 8, 1988]
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 purposes of the Act on the part of the coal mining industry.
The Office shall review each notice of violation and cessation order in accordance with the assessment procedures described in 30 CFR 845.12, 845.13, 845.14, 845.15, and 845.16 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.
(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 30 CFR 845.13.
(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 30 CFR 845.12(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 violation. 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 coal exploration or 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|
(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 coal exploration or 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 coal exploration or 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 (b)(2) (i) and (ii), assign up to 15 points for seriousness, based upon the extent to which enforcement is obstructed by the violation.
(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 or 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 coal exploration or surface coal mining and reclamation site shall be attributed to the person to whom the notice or order was issued, unless that person establishes that they were acts of deliberate sabotage.
(4) Good faith in attempting 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.|
(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.
The Office shall determine the amount of any civil penalty by converting the total number of points assigned under 30 CFR 845.13 to a dollar amount, according to the following schedule:
Table 1 to § 845.14
[47 FR 35640, Aug. 16, 1982, as amended at 62 FR 63276, Nov. 28, 1997; 66 FR 58647, Nov. 21, 2001; 70 FR 70701, Nov. 22, 2005; 74 FR 34493, July 15, 2009; 79 FR 18447, Apr. 2, 2014; 81 FR 44541, July 8, 2016; 82 FR 9354, Feb. 6, 2017; 83 FR 10616, Mar. 12, 2018; 84 FR 10676, Mar. 22, 2019; 85 FR 20835, Apr. 15, 2020; 86 FR 29514, June 2, 2021]
(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 845.13 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 § 845.13(b), the Office shall assess a 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 $2,596 will be assessed for each day during which such failure to abate continues, except that:
(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 Hearings 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 the violation shall not be assessed for more than 30 days for each such violation. If the permittee has not abated the violation within the 30-day period, the Office shall take appropriate action pursuant to section 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.
[47 FR 35640, Aug. 16, 1982, as amended at 62 FR 63277, Nov. 28, 1997; 66 FR 58647, Nov. 21, 2001; 70 FR 70701, Nov. 22, 2005; 81 FR 44541, July 8, 2016; 82 FR 9354, Feb. 6, 2017; 83 FR 10616, Mar. 12, 2018; 84 FR 10676, Mar. 22, 2019; 85 FR 20836, Apr. 15, 2020; 86 FR 29515, June 2, 2021]
(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 the formula contained in 30 CFR 845.13 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 845.13(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.
(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 or complaint under rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, within 30 days of the issuance of the notice or order.
(1) If a copy of the proposed assessment and work sheet or the certified mail is tendered at the address of that person required under 30 CFR 816.11, or at any address at which that person is in fact located, and he or she refuses to accept delivery of or to collect such documents, the requirements of this paragraph shall be deemed to have been complied with upon such tender.
(2) Failure by the Office to serve any proposed assessment within 30 days shall not be grounds for dismissal of all or part of such assessment unless the person against whom the proposed penalty has been assessed -
(i) Proves actual prejudice as a result of the delay; and,
(ii) Makes a timely objection to the delay. An objection shall be timely only if made in the normal course of administrative review.
(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), within 30 days after the date the violation is abated.
(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.
(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: Provided, That a failure by the Office to hold such conference within 60 days shall not be grounds for dismissal of all or part of an assessment unless the person against whom the proposed penalty has been assessed proves actual prejudice as a result of the delay.
(2) The Office shall post notice of the time and place of the conference at the State 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 or her 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 845.17(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.
(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) within 30 days from the date of the rescission.
(e) The conference officer may terminate the conference when he or she determines that the issues cannot be resolved or that the person assessed is not diligently working toward resolution of the issues.
(f) At formal review proceedings under sections 518, 521(a)(4), and 525 of the Act, no evidence as to statements made or evidence produced by one party at a conference shall be introduced as evidence by another party or to impeach a witness.
(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 30 CFR 843.16.
(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 845.20.
(a) If the person to whom a notice of violation or cessation order is issued fails to request a hearing as provided in § 845.19, 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 reducing 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 amount, 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.
(a) To the extent authorized in the applicable annual appropriations act or other relevant statute, the Director of OSMRE may utilize money collected by the United States pursuant to the assessment of civil penalties under section 518 of the Act for reclamation of lands adversely affected by coal mining practices after August 3, 1977, until such funds are expended.
(b) The Director may allocate funds at his discretion for reclamation projects on lands within any State or on Federal lands or Indian lands based on the following priorities:
(1) Emergency projects as defined in § 700.5 of this chapter;
(2) Reclamation projects which qualify as priority 1 under section 403 of the Act;
(3) Reclamation Projects which qualify as priority 2 under section 403 of the Act; and
(4) Reclamation of Federal bond forfeiture sites.
(c) Notwithstanding paragraph (b) of this section, at his discretion, the Director may allocate funds for any other reclamation project which constitutes a danger to the environment or to the public health and safety.