82-4-254. Violation -- penalty -- waiver. (1) (a) Except as provided in subsection (2), a person or operator who violates any of the provisions of this part, rules adopted or orders issued under this part, or term or condition of a permit and any director, officer, or agent of a corporation who purposely or knowingly authorizes, orders, or carries out a violation shall pay an administrative penalty of not less than $100 or more than $5,000 for the violation and an additional administrative penalty of not less than $100 or more than $5,000 for each day during which a violation continues and may be enjoined from continuing the violations as provided in this section. A person or operator who fails to correct a violation within the period permitted by law, rule of the board, or order of the department must be assessed a penalty of not less than $750 for each day, up to 30 days, during which the failure or violation continues.
(b) Penalties assessed under this section must be determined in accordance with the penalty factors in 82-4-1001.
(c) The period permitted for correction of a violation does not, in the case of any review proceeding under 82-4-251(6), end until entry of a final order suspending the abatement requirements or until entry of an order of court ordering suspension of the abatement requirements. If the failure to abate continues for more than 30 days, the department shall, within 30 days after the 30-day period, take appropriate action pursuant to 82-4-251(3) or request action under subsection (4) or (6) of this section.
(2) The department may waive the penalty for a minor violation of this part, a rule adopted or an order issued under this part, or a term or condition of a permit if the department determines that the violation is not of potential harm to public health, public safety, or the environment and does not impair the administration of this part. The department may not waive a penalty assessed under this section if the person or operator fails to abate the violation as directed under 82-4-251. The board shall adopt rules to implement and administer a procedure for waiver of a penalty under this subsection.
(3) (a) To assess an administrative penalty under this section, the department shall issue a notice of violation and penalty order to the person or operator, unless the penalty is waived pursuant to subsection (2). The notice and order must specify the provision of this part, rule adopted or order issued under this part, or term or condition of a permit that is violated and must contain findings of fact, conclusions of law, and a statement of the proposed administrative penalty. The notice and order must be served personally or by certified mail. Service by mail is complete 3 business days after the date of mailing. The notice and order become final unless, within 30 days after the order is served, the person or operator to whom the order was issued requests a hearing before the board. By submitting to the board a written request within 30 days of service of the notice of violation, stating the reason for the request, the person or operator is entitled to a hearing before the board under 82-4-206 on the issues of whether the alleged violation has occurred and whether the penalty proposed to be assessed is proper. On receipt of a request, the board shall schedule a hearing. After a hearing, the board shall make findings of fact and issue a written decision as to the occurrence of the violation and the amount of penalty warranted. If the board finds that the violation occurred and a penalty is warranted, it shall order the payment of the penalty. If the time for requesting a hearing expires without a hearing request, the person or operator shall remit the amount of the penalty within 30 days of the expiration of the period for requesting a hearing.
(b) If the person or operator to whom a final order is issued under subsection (3)(a) wishes to obtain judicial review of the order, the person or operator shall submit with any assessed penalty a statement that the penalty is being paid under protest and the department shall hold the payment in escrow until judicial review is complete. Any person or operator who fails to request and submit testimony at the hearing provided for in subsection (3)(a) or who fails to pay any assessed penalty under protest within 30 days of the order assessing the penalty forfeits the right to seek judicial review of the violation and penalty determinations.
(c) Penalties provided for in this section are recoverable in an action brought by the department. The action must be filed in the district court of the first judicial district, Lewis and Clark County, if mutually agreed on by the parties in the action, or in the district court having jurisdiction over the defendant.
(4) The department may bring an action for a restraining order or temporary or permanent injunction against an operator or other person who:
(a) violates, threatens to violate, or fails or refuses to comply with any order or decision issued under this part;
(b) interferes with, hinders, or delays the department in carrying out the provisions of this part;
(c) refuses to admit an authorized representative of the department to the permit area;
(d) refuses to permit inspection of the permit area by an authorized representative of the department;
(e) refuses to furnish any information or report requested by the department in furtherance of the provisions of this part; or
(f) refuses to permit access to and copying of records that the department determines to be necessary in carrying out the provisions of this part.
(5) Any relief granted by a court under subsection (4)(a) continues in effect until the completion or final termination of all proceedings for review of relief granted under this part unless, prior to the final determination, the district court granting the relief sets it aside or modifies it.
(6) A person who violates any of the provisions of this part or any determination or order issued under this part or who purposely or knowingly violates any permit condition issued under this part is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined an amount not less than $500 and not more than $10,000 or be imprisoned for not more than 1 year, or both. Each day on which the violation occurs constitutes a separate offense.
(7) A person who knowingly makes any false statement, representation, or certification or knowingly fails to make any statement, representation, or certification in any application, record, report, plan, or other document filed or required to be maintained pursuant to this part shall upon conviction be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or both.
(8) A person who except as permitted by law purposely or knowingly resists, prevents, impedes, or interferes with the department or its agents in the performance of duties pursuant to this part shall be punished by a fine of not more than $5,000 or by imprisonment for not more than 1 year, or both.
(9) An employee of the department performing any function or duty under this part may not have a direct or indirect financial interest in any strip- or underground-coal-mining operation. A person who knowingly violates the provisions of this subsection shall upon conviction be punished by a fine of not more than $2,500 or by imprisonment of not more than 1 year, or both.
(10) Within 30 days after receipt of full payment of an administrative penalty assessed under this section, the department shall issue a written release of civil liability for the violations for which the penalty was assessed.
History: En. Sec. 23, Ch. 325, L. 1973; R.C.M. 1947, 50-1056; amd. Sec. 17, Ch. 550, L. 1979; amd. Sec. 5, Ch. 437, L. 1981; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 499, L. 1983; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 24, L. 1985; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 217, L. 1985; amd. Sec. 379, Ch. 418, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 294, Ch. 42, L. 1997; amd. Sec. 10, Ch. 79, L. 2001; amd. Sec. 1, Ch. 486, L. 2005; amd. Sec. 25, Ch. 487, L. 2005.