(a) At any time before an order issued under § 107.317 or § 107.323 is referred to the Attorney General for enforcement, the respondent or the Office of Chief Counsel may propose a compromise as follows:
(1) In civil penalty cases, the respondent or Chief Counsel may offer to compromise the amount of the penalty by submitting an offer for a specific amount to the other party. An offer of compromise by the respondent shall be submitted to the Chief Counsel who may, after consultation with the Associate Administrator, accept or reject it.
(i) A compromise offer stays the running of any response period then outstanding.
(ii) If a compromise is agreed to by the parties, the respondent is notified in writing. Upon receipt of payment by Office of Chief Counsel, the respondent is notified in writing that acceptance of payment is in full satisfaction of the civil penalty proposed or assessed, and Office of Chief Counsel closes the case with prejudice to the respondent.
(iii) If a compromise cannot be agreed to, the respondent is notified in writing and is given 10 days or the amount of time remaining in the then outstanding response period, whichever is longer, to respond to whatever action was taken by the Office of Chief Counsel or the Administrator, PHMSA.
(2) In compliance order cases, the respondent may propose a consent agreement to the Chief Counsel. If the Chief Counsel accepts the agreement, he issues an order in accordance with its terms. If the Chief Counsel rejects the agreement, he directs that the proceeding continue. An agreement submitted to the Chief Counsel must include:
(i) A statement of any allegations of fact which the respondent challenges;
(ii) The reasons why the terms of a compliance order or proposed compliance order are or would be too burdensome for the respondent, or why such terms are not supported by the record in the case;
(iii) A proposed compliance order suitable for issuance by the Chief Counsel;
(iv) An admission of all jurisdictional facts; and
(v) An express waiver of further procedural steps and all right to seek judicial review or otherwise challenge or contest the validity of the order.
(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a)(1) of this section, the respondent or Office of Chief Counsel may propose to settle the case. If the Chief Counsel agrees to a settlement, the respondent is notified and the case is closed without prejudice to the respondent.