(b) If the director determines that a pattern of violations of any requirement of this article or any permit condition exists or has existed, as a result of the operator's lack of reasonable care and diligence, or that the violations are willfully caused by the operator, the director shall immediately issue an order directing the operator to show cause why the permit should not be suspended or revoked and giving the operator thirty days in which to request a public hearing. If a hearing is requested, the director shall inform all interested parties of the time and place of the hearing. Any hearing under this section shall be recorded and is subject to the provisions of chapter twenty-nine-a of this code. Within sixty days following the public hearing, the director shall issue and furnish to the permittee and all other parties to the hearing a written decision, and the reasons therefor, concerning suspension or revocation of the permit. Upon the operator's failure to show cause why the permit should not be suspended or revoked, the director shall immediately suspend or revoke the operator's permit. If the permit is revoked, the director shall initiate procedures in accordance with rules promulgated by the director to forfeit theentire amount of the operator's bond, or other security posted pursuant to section eleven or twelve of this article, and give notice to the attorney general, who shall collect the forfeiture without delay: Provided, That the entire proceeds of such forfeiture shall be deposited with the treasurer of the state of West Virginia to the credit of the special reclamation fund. All forfeitures collected shall be deposited in the special reclamation fund and shall be expended back upon the areas for which the bond was posted: Provided, however, That any excess therefrom shall remain in the special reclamation fund.
Within one year following the notice of permit revocation, subject to the discretion of the director and based upon a petition for reinstatement, the revoked permit may be reinstated. The reinstated permit may be assigned to any person who meets the permit eligibility requirements of this article.
(c) Any person engaged in surface-mining operations who violates any permit condition or who violates any other provision of this article or rules promulgated pursuant thereto may also be assessed a civil penalty. The penalty may not exceed five thousand dollars. Each day of continuing violation may be deemed a separate violation for purposes of penalty assessments. In determining the amount of the penalty, consideration shall be given to the operator's history of previous violations at the particular surface-mining operation, the seriousness of the violation, including any irreparable harm to the environment and any hazard tothe health or safety of the public, whether the operator was negligent, and the demonstrated good faith of the operator charged in attempting to achieve rapid compliance after notification of the violation.
(d) (1) Upon the issuance of a notice or order pursuant to this section, the assessment officer shall, within thirty days, set a proposed penalty assessment and notify the operator in writing of such proposed penalty assessment. The proposed penalty assessment must be paid in full within thirty days of receipt or, if the operator wishes to contest either the amount of the penalty or the fact of violation, an informal conference with the assessment officer may be requested within fifteen days or a formal hearing before the surface mine board may be requested within thirty days. The notice of proposed penalty assessment shall advise the operator of the right to an informal conference and a formal hearing pursuant to this section. When an informal conference is requested, the operator has fifteen days from receipt of the assessment officer's decision to request a formal hearing before the board.
(A) When an informal conference is held, the assessment officer has authority to affirm, modify or vacate the notice, order or proposed penalty assessment.
(B) When a formal hearing is requested, the amount of the proposed penalty assessment shall be forwarded to the director for placement in an escrow account. Formal hearings shall be of recordand subject to the provisions of article five, chapter twenty-nine-a of this code. Following the hearing the board shall affirm, modify or vacate the notice, order or proposed penalty assessment and, when appropriate, incorporate an assessment order requiring that the assessment be paid.
(2) Civil penalties owed under this section may be recovered by the director in the circuit court of Kanawha County. Civil penalties collected under this article shall be deposited with the treasurer of the state of West Virginia to the credit of the special reclamation fund established in section eleven of this article. If, through the administrative or judicial review of the proposed penalty it is determined that no violation occurred or that the amount of the penalty should be reduced, the director shall within thirty days remit the appropriate amount to the person, with interest at the rate of six percent or at the prevailing United States department of the treasury rate, whichever is greater. Failure to forward the money to the director within thirty days is a waiver of all legal rights to contest the violation or the amount of the penalty.
(e) Any person having an interest which is or may be adversely affected by any order of the director or the surface mine board may file an appeal only in accordance with the provisions of article one, chapter twenty-two-b of this code, within thirty days after receipt of the order.
(f) The filing of an appeal or a request for an informalconference or formal hearing provided for in this section does not stay execution of the order appealed from. Pending completion of the investigation and conference or hearing required by this section, the applicant may file with the director a written request that the director grant temporary relief from any notice or order issued under section sixteen or seventeen of this article, together with a detailed statement giving reasons for granting such relief. The director shall issue an order or decision granting or denying such relief expeditiously: Provided, That where the applicant requests relief from an order for cessation of surface-mining and reclamation operations, the decision on the request shall be issued within five days of its receipt. The director may grant such relief, under such conditions as he or she may prescribe if:
(1) All parties to the proceedings have been notified and given an opportunity to be heard on a request for temporary relief;
(2) The person requesting the relief shows that there is a substantial likelihood that they will prevail on the merits in the final determination of the proceedings;
(3) The relief will not adversely affect the public health or safety or cause significant imminent environmental harm to land, air or water resources; and
(4) The relief sought is not the issuance of a permit where a permit has been denied, in whole or in part, by the director.
(g) Any person who willfully and knowingly violates a condition of a permit issued pursuant to this article or rulespromulgated pursuant thereto, or fails or refuses to comply with any order issued under said article and rules or any order incorporated in a final decision issued by the director, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than ten thousand dollars, or imprisoned in the county jail not more than one year, or both fined and imprisoned.
(h) Whenever a corporate operator violates a condition of a permit issued pursuant to this article, rules promulgated pursuant thereto, or any order incorporated in a final decision issued by the director, any director, officer or agent of the corporation who willfully and knowingly authorized, ordered or carried out the failure or refusal, is subject to the same civil penalties, fines and imprisonment that may be imposed upon a person under subsections (c) and (g) of this section.
(i) Any person who knowingly makes any false statement, representation or certification, or knowingly fails to make any statement, representation or certification in any application, petition, record, report, plan or other document filed or required to be maintained pursuant to this article or rules promulgated pursuant thereto, is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than ten thousand dollars, or imprisoned in the county jail not more than one year, or both fined and imprisoned.
(j) Whenever any person: (A) Violates or fails or refuses tocomply with any order or decision issued by the director under this article; or (B) interferes with, hinders or delays the director in carrying out the provisions of this article; or (C) refuses to admit the director to the mine; or (D) refuses to permit inspection of the mine by the director; or (E) refuses to furnish any reasonable information or report requested by the director in furtherance of the provisions of this article; or (F) refuses to permit access to, and copying of, such records as the director determines necessary in carrying out the provisions of this article; or (G) violates any other provisions of this article, the rules promulgated pursuant thereto, or the terms and conditions of any permit, the director, the attorney general or the prosecuting attorney of the county in which the major portion of the permit area is located may institute a civil action for relief, including a permanent or temporary injunction, restraining order or any other appropriate order, in the circuit court of Kanawha County or any court of competent jurisdiction to compel compliance with and enjoin such violations, failures or refusals. The court or the judge thereof may issue a preliminary injunction in any case pending a decision on the merits of any application filed without requiring the filing of a bond or other equivalent security.
(k) Any person who, except as permitted by law, willfully resists, prevents, impedes or interferes with the director or any of his or her agents in the performance of duties pursuant to this article is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof,shall be punished by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2015 Regular Session
The WV Code Online is an unofficial copy of the annotated WV Code, provided as a convenience. It has NOT been edited for publication, and is not in any way official or authoritative.