[Docket No. PHMSA-2011-0161]
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.