82-4-441. Administrative and judicial penalties -- enforcement. (1) When the department has reason to believe that a person is in violation of this part, a rule adopted or an order issued under this part, or a term or condition of a permit issued under this part, it shall send a violation letter to the person. The violation letter must describe the provision of the statute, rule, order, or permit alleged to be violated and the facts alleged to constitute the violation. The letter must also recommend corrective actions that are necessary to return to compliance. Issuance of a violation letter under this subsection does not limit the authority of the department under this part to bring a judicial action for penalties or injunctive relief or to initiate an administrative enforcement action.
(2) By issuance of an order pursuant to subsection (5), the department may assess against a person who violates any of the provisions of this part, rules adopted or orders issued under this part, or provisions of a permit:
(a) an administrative penalty of not less than $100 or more than $1,000 for the violation; and
(b) an additional administrative penalty of not less than $100 or more than $1,000 for each day during which a violation continues.
(3) The department may bring a judicial action seeking a penalty of not more than $5,000 against a person who violates any of the provisions of this part, rules adopted or orders issued under this part, or provisions of a permit and a penalty of not more than $5,000 for each day that the violation continues. In determining the amount of the penalty, the district court shall consider the factors in subsection (4).
(4) Penalties assessed under this section must be determined in accordance with the penalty factors in 82-4-1001.
(5) (a) In addition to the violation letter sent pursuant to subsection (1), the department may also issue an order if it has credible information that a violation listed in subsection (2) has occurred. The order must specify the provision of the part, rule, order, or permit alleged to be violated and the facts alleged to constitute the violation. The order may require necessary corrective action within a reasonable period of time, may assess an administrative penalty determined in accordance with this section, or both. The order must be served personally or by certified mail.
(b) An order issued pursuant to subsection (5)(a) becomes final unless, within 30 days after the order is served, the person to whom the order is issued submits to the board a written request for a hearing stating the reason for the request. Service of an order by mail is complete 3 business days after mailing. If a request for a hearing is filed, a hearing must be held within a reasonable time under the contested case provisions of the Montana Administrative Procedure Act, Title 2, chapter 4, part 6. After a hearing, the board shall affirm, modify, or rescind the order.
(6) The department may bring an action to enjoin an operator or other person violating or threatening to violate this part, rules adopted pursuant to this part, or a permit issued pursuant to this part. Actions for injunctions or penalties must be filed in the district court of the county in which the opencut operation is located or, if mutually agreed on by both parties in the action, in the first judicial district, Lewis and Clark County.
(7) The provisions of this section do not limit the authority of the department to bring a judicial action for penalties or injunctive relief prior to or instead of initiating an administrative enforcement action under this part.
History: En. Sec. 1, Ch. 113, L. 1981; amd. Sec. 7, Ch. 280, L. 1987; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 431, L. 1991; amd. Sec. 414, Ch. 418, L. 1995; amd. Sec. 2, Ch. 271, L. 1997; amd. Sec. 5, Ch. 273, L. 1997; amd. Sec. 18, Ch. 507, L. 1999; amd. Sec. 17, Ch. 79, L. 2001; amd. Sec. 6, Ch. 325, L. 2001; amd. Sec. 4, Ch. 486, L. 2005; amd. Sec. 15, Ch. 385, L. 2007.