40 CFR 22.27 - Initial Decision.

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(a)Filing and contents. After the period for filing briefs under § 22.26 has expired, the Presiding Officer shall issue an initial decision. The initial decision shall contain findings of fact, conclusions regarding all material issues of law or discretion, as well as reasons therefor, and, if appropriate, a recommended civil penalty assessment, compliance order, corrective action order, or Permit Action. Upon receipt of an initial decision, the Regional Hearing Clerk shall forward copies of the initial decision to the Environmental Appeals Board and the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

(b)Amount of civil penalty. If the Presiding Officer determines that a violation has occurred and the complaint seeks a civil penalty, the Presiding Officer shall determine the amount of the recommended civil penalty based on the evidence in the record and in accordance with any penalty criteria set forth in the Act. The Presiding Officer shall consider any civil penalty guidelines issued under the Act. The Presiding Officer shall explain in detail in the initial decision how the penalty to be assessed corresponds to any penalty criteria set forth in the Act. If the Presiding Officer decides to assess a penalty different in amount from the penalty proposed by complainant, the Presiding Officer shall set forth in the initial decision the specific reasons for the increase or decrease. If the respondent has defaulted, the Presiding Officer shall not assess a penalty greater than that proposed by complainant in the complaint, the prehearing information exchange or the motion for default, whichever is less.

(c)Effect of initial decision. The initial decision of the Presiding Officer shall become a final order 45 days after its service upon the parties and without further proceedings unless:

(1) A party moves to reopen the hearing;

(2) A party appeals the initial decision to the Environmental Appeals Board;

(3) A party moves to set aside a default order that constitutes an initial decision; or

(4) The Environmental Appeals Board elects to review the initial decision on its own initiative.

(d)Exhaustion of administrative remedies. Where a respondent fails to appeal an initial decision to the Environmental Appeals Board pursuant to § 22.30 and that initial decision becomes a final order pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section, respondent waives its rights to judicial review. An initial decision that is appealed to the Environmental Appeals Board shall not be final or operative pending the Environmental Appeals Board's issuance of a final order.

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