29 CFR § 2700.24 - Emergency response plan dispute proceedings.

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§ 2700.24 Emergency response plan dispute proceedings.

(a) Referral by the Secretary. The Secretary shall immediately refer to the Commission any citation arising from a dispute between the Secretary and an operator with respect to the content of the operator's emergency response plan, or any refusal by the Secretary to approve such a plan. Any referral made pursuant to this paragraph shall be made within two business days of the issuance of any such citation.

(b) Contents of referral. A referral shall consist of a notice of plan dispute describing the nature of the dispute; a copy of the citation issued by the Secretary; a short and plain statement of the Secretary's position with respect to any disputed plan provision; and a copy of the disputed provision of the emergency response plan.

(c) Short and plain statement by the operator. Within five calendar days following the filing of the referral, the operator shall file with the Commission a short and plain statement of its position with respect to the disputed plan provision.

(d) Filing and service of pleadings. The filing with the Commission of any document in an emergency response plan dispute proceeding, including the referral, is effective upon receipt. A copy of each document filed with the Commission in such a proceeding shall be served on all parties and on any miner or miners' representative who has participated in the emergency response plan review process by a method of service no less expeditious than that used for filing, except that if service by electronic transmission (email) is impossible, the filing party must serve in person, by third party commercial carrier, or by facsimile transmission, resulting in same-day delivery.

(e) Proceedings before the Judge -

(1) Submission of materials. Within 15 calendar days of the referral, the parties shall submit to the Judge assigned to the matter all relevant materials regarding the dispute. Such submissions shall include a request for any relief sought and may include proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law. Such materials may be supported by affidavits or other verified documents, and shall specify the grounds upon which the party seeks relief. Supporting affidavits shall be made on personal knowledge and shall show affirmatively that the affiant is competent to testify to the matters stated.

(2) Hearing.

(i) Within 5 calendar days following the filing of the Secretary's referral, any party may request a hearing and shall so advise the Commission's Chief Administrative Law Judge or his designee, and simultaneously notify the other parties.

(ii) Within 10 calendar days following the filing of the Secretary's referral, the Commission's Chief Administrative Law Judge or his designee may issue an order scheduling a hearing on the Judge's own motion, and must immediately so notify the parties.

(iii) If a hearing is ordered under paragraphs (e)(2)(i) or (ii) of this section, the hearing shall be held within 15 calendar days of the filing of the referral. The scope of such a hearing is limited to the disputed plan provision or provisions. If no hearing is held, the Judge assigned to the matter shall review the materials submitted by the parties pursuant to paragraph (e)(1) of this subsection, and shall issue a decision pursuant to paragraph (f) of this section.

(f) Disposition -

(1) Decision of the Judge. Within 15 calendar days following receipt by the Judge of all submissions and testimony made pursuant to paragraph (e) of this subsection, the Judge shall issue a decision that constitutes the Judge's final disposition of the proceedings. The decision shall be in writing and shall include all findings of fact and conclusions of law, and the reasons or bases for them, on all the material issues of fact, law or discretion presented by the record, and an order. The parties shall be notified of the Judge's decision by the most expeditious means reasonably available. Service of the decision shall be by certified or registered mail, return receipt requested.

(2) Stay of plan provision. Notwithstanding § 2700.69(b), a Judge shall retain jurisdiction over a request for a stay in an emergency response plan dispute proceeding. Within two business days following service of the decision, the operator may file with the judge a request to stay the inclusion of the disputed provision in the plan during the pendency of an appeal to the Commission pursuant to paragraph (g) of this section. The Secretary shall respond to the operator's motion within two business days following service of the motion. The judge shall issue an order granting or denying the relief sought within two business days after the filing of the Secretary's response.

(g) Review of decision. Any party may seek review of a Judge's decision, including the Judge's order granting or denying a stay, by filing with the Commission a petition for discretionary review pursuant to § 2700.70. Neither an operator's request for a stay nor the issuance of an order addressing the stay request affects the time limits for filing a petition for discretionary review of a Judge's decision with the Commission under this subparagraph. The Commission shall act upon a petition on an expedited basis. If review is granted, the Commission shall issue a briefing order. Except as otherwise ordered or provided for herein, the provisions of § 2700.75 apply. The Commission will not grant motions for extension of time for filing briefs, except under extraordinary circumstances.

[72 FR 2191, Jan. 18, 2007, as amended at 78 FR 77358, Dec. 23, 2013]

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