In This Issue

Enforcement Proceedings Involving an Informal Hearing

[Docket No. PHMSA-2011-0161]

Subpart B of 49 CFR part 190 (190.201-190.239) provides an opportunity for a pipeline operator to submit a written answer and/or request a hearing prior to the issuance of any order that makes a finding of violation, assesses a civil penalty, or requires corrective measures to be taken. Hearings in pipeline safety enforcement cases are conducted by a hearing officer in accordance with certain procedures designed to ensure a fair and impartial decision on the merits. Formerly, hearings were held before several different attorneys from the Office of Chief Counsel and were assigned to an attorney who had no role in the investigation and prosecution of the case being heard. Now, all hearings will be held, to the extent practical, before the designated hearing officer, who will have no role in the investigation and prosecution of any enforcement cases. Effective immediately, and to the extent practical, all timely requested hearings will be held before the designated hearing officer or “Presiding Official” within PHMSA.

PHMSA published a document to explain the current hearing procedures and describe the dedicated hearing officer’s roles and responsibilities, the process for requesting a hearing, and the manner in which a case will proceed once a hearing has been requested. Contact Jessica Roger for a copy.