TX NATURAL RESOURCES CODE

TITLE 3. OIL AND GAS

SUBTITLE A. ADMINISTRATION

CHAPTER 131. URANIUM SURFACE MINING AND RECLAMATION ACT

SUBCHAPTER G. ENFORCEMENT



§ 131.261. CONDITIONS, PRACTICES, AND VIOLATIONS CREATING IMMINENT DANGER OR CAUSING IMMINENT HARM.
     (a) On the basis of any
      inspection, if the commission or its authorized representative or agent determines that a condition or practice exists or that a permittee is in violation of a requirement of this chapter or a permit condition required by this chapter, and that this condition, practice, or violation also creates an imminent danger to the health or safety of the public or is causing or can reasonably be expected to cause significant imminent harm to land, air, or water resources, a member of the commission shall immediately order a cessation of surface mining operations on the portion of the area relevant to the condition, practice, or violation.
     (b) The cessation order shall set a time and place for a hearing to be held before the commission and shall be held as soon after the order is issued as is practicable.
     (c) The requirements of Section 131.159 of this code relating to time for notice, newspaper notice, and method of giving notice do not apply to a hearing under this section, but general notice shall be given in the manner that the commission judges to be practicable under the circumstances.
     (d) No more than 24 hours after the commencement of the hearing and without adjournment, the commission shall affirm, modify, or set aside the order.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2630, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 131.262. VIOLATIONS NOT CREATING IMMINENT DANGER OR CAUSING IMMINENT HARM.
     (a) On the basis of an inspection, if the
      commission or its authorized representative or agent determines that a permittee is in violation of a requirement of this chapter or a permit condition required by this chapter, but the violation does not create an imminent danger to the health or safety of the public or is not causing or reasonably expected to cause significant imminent harm to land, air, or water resources, the commission shall issue a notice to the permittee or his agent setting a reasonable time not to exceed 30 days for the abatement of the violation.
     (b) If, on expiration of the period of time as originally set or subsequently extended, for good cause shown, and on written finding of the commission, the commission finds that the violation has not been abated, it may order a cessation of surface mining operations on the portion of this area relevant to the violation. However, if requested by the operator, a hearing must be held prior to a commission finding or order.
     (c) The cessation order shall remain in effect until the commission determines that the violation has been abated or until modified, vacated, or terminated by the commission under Section 131.263 of this code.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2631, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 131.263. CONTINUOUS VIOLATIONS.
     (a) On the basis of an inspection, if the commission has reason to believe that a pattern of violations of any requirements of this chapter or any permit conditions required by this chapter exists or has existed, and if the commission also finds that these violations are caused by the unwarranted failure of the permittee to comply with requirements of this chapter or permit conditions or that the violations are wilfully caused by the permittee, the commission shall issue an order to the permittee forthwith to show cause as to why the permit should not be suspended or revoked.
     (b) The order shall set a time and place for a public hearing to be held in accordance with the notice and procedural requirements of Sections 131.159 through 131.164 of this code.
     (c) On failure of a permittee to show cause why the permit should not be suspended or revoked, the commission shall promptly suspend, or revoke the permit.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2631, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 131.264. FORM OF NOTICES AND ORDERS.
     (a) Notices and orders issued under Sections 131.261 through 131.263 of this code shall set forth with reasonable specificity:
          (1) the nature of the violation and the remedial action required;
          (2) the period of time established for abatement; and
          (3) a reasonable description of the portion of the surface mining and reclamation operation to which the notice or order applies.
     (b) Each notice or order issued under this section shall be given promptly to the permittee or his agent by the commission.
     (c) Notices and orders shall be in writing and shall be signed by the commission or its authorized representative.
     (d) A notice or order issued under Sections 131.261 through 131.263 of this code may be modified, vacated, or terminated by the commission.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2631, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 131.265. CIVIL ACTIONS.
     (a) The commission may request the attorney general to institute a civil action for relief, including a permanent or temporary injunction, restraining order, or other appropriate order, if the permittee:
          (1) violates or fails or refuses to comply with an order or decision issued by the commission under this chapter;
          (2) interferes with, hinders, or delays the commission or its authorized representative in carrying out the provisions of this chapter;
          (3) refuses to admit an authorized representative to the mine;
          (4) refuses to permit inspection of the mine by an authorized representative;
          (5) refuses to furnish information or a report requested by the commission under the commission's rules; or
          (6) refuses to permit access to and copying of records the commission determines reasonably necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter.
     (b) The action shall be brought in a district court in Travis County or in the county in which the greater portion of the surface mining and reclamation operation is located.
     (c) The court has jurisdiction to provide the relief that is appropriate, and relief granted by the court to enforce Subdivision (1) of Subsection (a) of this section shall continue in effect until the completion or final termination of all proceedings for review of the order under this chapter unless before that time the district court granting the relief sets the order aside or modifies it.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2632, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 131.266. INJUNCTIVE RELIEF AND CIVIL PENALTY.
     (a) The commission may have a civil suit instituted for injunctive relief to restrain a permittee from continuing a violation or threatening a violation or for the assessment of a civil penalty of not more than $5,000 as the court considers proper for each day of violation, or for both.
     (b) In determining the amount of the civil penalty, consideration shall be given to:
          (1) the permittee's history of previous violations under this chapter;
          (2) the appropriateness of the penalty to the size of the business of the permittee;
          (3) the seriousness of the violation, including irreparable harm to the environment and hazard to the health or safety of the public;
          (4) whether the permittee was negligent; and
          (5) the demonstrated good faith of the permittee charged in attempting to achieve rapid compliance after notice of the violation.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2632, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 131.2661. ADMINISTRATIVE PENALTY.
     (a) If a person violates a permit of this chapter and the violation results in pollution of the air or water of this state or poses a threat to the public safety, the person may be assessed a civil penalty by the commission.
     (b) The penalty may not exceed $10,000 a day for each violation. Each day a violation continues may be considered a separate violation for purposes of penalty assessments.
     (c) In determining the amount of the penalty, the commission shall consider the permittee's history of previous violations of this chapter, the seriousness of the violation, any hazard to the health or safety of the public, and the demonstrated good faith of the permittee or person charged.

Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1409, ch. 286, § 2, eff. Aug. 29, 1983.

§ 131.2662. PENALTY ASSESSMENT PROCEDURE.
     (a) A civil penalty may be assessed only after the person charged with a violation described under Section 131.2661 of this code has been given an opportunity for a public hearing.
     (b) If a public hearing has been held, the commission shall make findings of fact, and it shall issue a written decision as to the occurrence of the violation and the amount of the penalty that is warranted, incorporating, when appropriate, an order requiring that the penalty be paid.
     (c) If appropriate, the commission shall consolidate the hearings with other proceedings under this chapter.
     (d) If the person charged with the violation fails to avail himself of the opportunity for a public hearing, a civil penalty may be assessed by the commission after it has determined that a violation did occur and the amount of the penalty that is warranted.
     (e) The commission shall then issue an order requiring that the penalty be paid.

Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1409, ch. 286, § 2, eff. Aug. 29, 1983.

§ 131.2663. PAYMENT OF PENALTY;
     REFUND.
     (a) On the issuance of notice or an order finding that a violation has occurred, the commission shall inform the person charged within 30 days of the proposed amount of the penalty.
     (b) Within the 30-day period immediately following the day on which the notice or order is issued, the person charged with the penalty shall pay the proposed penalty in full or, if the person wishes to contest either the amount of the penalty or the fact of the violation, forward the proposed amount to the commission for placement in an escrow account.
     (c) If through 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 commission shall, within the 30-day period immediately following that determination, remit the appropriate amount to the person, with interest at the prevailing United States Department of the Treasury rate.
     (d) Failure to forward the money to the commission within the time provided by Subsection (b) of this section results in a waiver of all legal rights to contest the violation or the amount of the penalty.

Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1409, ch. 286, § 2, eff. Aug. 29, 1983.

§ 131.2664. RECOVERY OF PENALTY.
     Civil penalties owed under Sections 131.2661-131.2663 of this code may be recovered in a civil action brought by the attorney general at the request of the commission.

Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1409, ch. 286, § 2, eff. Aug. 29, 1983.

§ 131.267. CRIMINAL PENALTY FOR VIOLATING PERMITS AND ORDERS.
     A person who wilfully and knowingly violates a condition
      of a permit issued under this chapter or fails or refuses to comply with an order issued under Section 131.264 of this code or an order incorporated in a final decision issued by the commission under this chapter, on conviction by a district court, shall be punished by a criminal penalty of not more than $10,000 or by imprisonment for not more than one year or by both.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2632, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 131.268. CRIMINAL PENALTY FOR CORPORATE PERMITTEE.
     If a corporate permittee violates a condition of a permit issued under this chapter or fails or refuses to comply with an order issued under Section 131.264 of this code or an order incorporated in a final decision issued by the commission under this chapter, a director, officer, or agent of the corporation who wilfully and knowingly authorized, ordered, or carried out the violation, failure, or refusal, on conviction by a district court, is punishable by a criminal penalty of not more than $10,000 or by imprisonment for not more than one year or by both.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2632, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 131.269. CRIMINAL PENALTY FOR FALSE STATEMENT, REPRESENTATION, OR CERTIFICATION.
     A person who knowingly makes a
      false statement, representation, or certification or who knowingly fails to make a statement, representation, or certification in an application, record, report, plan, or other document filed or required to be maintained under this chapter, on conviction by a district court, is punishable by a criminal penalty of not more than $10,000 or by imprisonment for not more than one year or by both.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2633, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.

§ 131.270. RECOVERY OF CIVIL PENALTIES.
     (a) The commission may request the attorney general to institute a suit to recover civil or criminal penalties or to obtain injunctive relief or for both as provided in Sections 131.265 through 131.269 of this code.
     (b) Suit shall be brought in a district court in Travis County or in the county in which the greater portion of the surface mining and reclamation operation is located.

Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 2633, ch. 871, art. I, § 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1977.