††††† 405 KAR 7:091. General practice provisions.

 

††††† RELATES TO: KRS 224.10-410, 350.028, 350.0301, 350.0305, 350.032, 350.070, 350.090, 350.093, 350.130, 350.255, 350.465, 350.990, 446.030, 30 C.F.R. Parts 730, 731, 732, 733, 735, 917, 30 U.S.C. 1253, 1255

††††† STATUTORY AUTHORITY: KRS, 350.020, 350.028, 350.0301, 350.0305, 350.255, 350.465, 350.610

††††† NECESSITY, FUNCTION, AND CONFORMITY: KRS Chapter 350 requires the cabinet to promulgate rules and administrative regulations pertaining to surface coal mining and reclamation operations and coal exploration operations. This administrative regulation establishes hearing, notice, and other procedural and due process provisions for the permanent regulatory program.

 

††††† Section 1. Applicability. (1) This administrative regulation shall govern the conduct by the cabinet of all administrative hearings and conferences arising under KRS Chapter 350, including those pending when this administrative regulation becomes effective.

††††† (2) It shall also provide for public participation, pertaining to the review of determinations on:

††††† (a) Permits for surface coal mining and reclamation operations and coal exploration operations, including issuance, denial, suspension, revocation, modification, and compliance with the terms of a permit;

††††† (b) Notices of noncompliance and orders for remedial measures;

††††† (c) Orders for cessation and immediate compliance issued pursuant to KRS 350.130(1) or (4);

††††† (d) Performance bond amount, duration, release, and forfeiture;

††††† (e) Orders to abate or alleviate, issued pursuant to KRS 224.10-410, to surface coal mining and reclamation operations; and

††††† (f) All other matters, including participation in administrative hearings by a person adversely affected by a determination of the cabinet which:

††††† 1. Are appropriate for adjudication and determination by the cabinet; or

††††† 2. Arise by virtue of an order or determination of the cabinet pursuant to the permanent regulatory program for surface coal mining and reclamation operations and coal exploration operations as established in KRS Chapter 350 and 405 KAR Chapters 7 through 24.

 

††††† Section 2. General Provisions for Conducting Administrative Hearings. (1)(a) Hearings generally. All administrative hearings shall be de novo as to all issues of fact and law, provided that those findings previously adjudicated by a final order of the secretary shall be binding against a party to the administrative hearing leading to the final order. A party to an administrative hearing may be represented by counsel, make oral or written argument, offer testimony, cross-examine witnesses, or take any combination of these actions. An independent hearing officer shall preside at the administrative hearing, keep order, and conduct the administrative hearing in accordance with reasonable administrative practice and Section 2 of this administrative regulation. Oaths and affirmations shall be administered by the hearing officer or court reporter. The provisions of 400 KAR 1:030 and 1:040 shall apply to cases before the cabinet, consistent with KRS Chapter 350 and 405 KAR Chapters 7 through 24. The hearing officer shall permit a party to represent himself, except a corporate party shall only be represented by an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The failure of a corporate party to appear by counsel, without good cause that is not the result of a lack of diligence on the part of the corporate party or its counsel, shall be grounds for default.

††††† (b)1. Evidence. Irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious evidence shall be excluded. If necessary to ascertain facts not reasonably susceptible to proof under rules of evidence, evidence not admissible thereunder may be admitted, except if designated as confidential by statute, if it is of a type commonly relied upon by reasonable and prudent persons in the conduct of their affairs. A hearing officer shall give effect to the rules of privilege recognized by law.

††††† 2. Objections may be made and shall be noted in the record.

††††† 3. Subject to these requirements, if a hearing will be expedited and the interests of the parties will not be prejudiced substantially, any part of the evidence may be received in written form. Documentary evidence may be received in the form of copies or excerpts. Upon request, parties shall be given an opportunity to compare the copy with the original.

††††† 4. A party may conduct cross-examinations required for a full and true disclosure of the facts.

††††† 5. Notice may be taken by the hearing officer of generally recognized technical or scientific facts within the cabinet's specialized knowledge. Parties shall be notified either before or during the administrative hearing, or by reference in reports or otherwise, of the material noticed, including any staff memoranda or data, and the parties shall have an opportunity to contest the material so noticed.

††††† 6. The cabinet's experience, technical competence, and specialized knowledge may be utilized by the hearing officer in the evaluation of the evidence.

††††† (2) Hearing officer's duties. The hearing officer shall in his discretion:

††††† (a) Administer oaths and affirmations;

††††† (b) Issue subpoenas in accordance with Section 9 of this administrative regulation;

††††† (c) Issue appropriate orders relating to discovery in accordance with 400 KAR 1:040;

††††† (d) Rule on procedural requests or similar matters;

††††† (e) Hold prehearing conferences for settlement or simplification of the issues;

††††† (f) Regulate the course of the administrative hearing;

††††† (g) Rule on offers of proof and receive relevant evidence;

††††† (h) Take any other action authorized by administrative regulation, KRS Chapter 350 and 405 KAR Chapters 7 through 24; and

††††† (i) Make or recommend decisions or reports in accordance with KRS Chapter 350 and 405 KAR Chapters 7 through 24.

††††† (3) Prehearing conference. A hearing officer may order a prehearing conference:

††††† (a) To simplify and clarify issues;

††††† (b) To receive stipulations and admissions;

††††† (c) To explore the possibility of agreement disposing of any or all of the issues in dispute; and

††††† (d) For any other purposes as may be appropriate, including but not limited to summary disposition of the case.

††††† (4) Summary disposition. After a proceeding has begun, a party may move for a summary disposition of the whole or part of a case, in which event the following procedure shall apply:

††††† (a) The moving party shall verify any allegations of fact with supporting affidavits, unless the moving party is relying upon:

††††† 1. Depositions;

††††† 2. Answers to interrogatories;

††††† 3. Admissions; or

††††† 4. Documents produced upon request to verify allegations.

††††† (b) A hearing officer may grant a motion and render a report and recommended order to the secretary under this section if the record, including the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, and affidavits, shows that:

††††† 1. There is no disputed issue as to any material fact; and

††††† 2. The moving party is entitled to a summary disposition as a matter of law.

††††† (c) If a motion for a summary disposition is not granted for the entire case or for all the relief requested and an evidentiary hearing on some or all of the issues is necessary, the hearing officer shall, upon examination of all relevant documents and evidence before him, ascertain what material facts are actually and in good faith controverted. The hearing officer shall issue an interim report specifying the facts that appear without substantial controversy and direct further proceedings as deemed appropriate.

††††† (5) Hearing officer's report.

††††† (a) The hearing officer shall, within thirty (30) days of the close of the administrative hearing record, make a report and recommended order to the secretary, except that the administrative hearing officer shall, within twenty (20) days of the close of the hearing record, make a report and recommended order in administrative hearings on permit determinations in accordance with 405 KAR 7:092, Section 8.

††††† (b) The report and recommended order shall be based on a preponderance of the evidence appearing in the record as a whole and shall contain appropriate findings of fact and conclusions of law.

††††† (c) If the secretary finds upon written request of the hearing officer that additional time is needed, then the secretary may grant a reasonable extension. If granted by the secretary, all parties shall be notified upon the granting of the extension.

††††† (d) The hearing officer's report and recommended order shall be mailed, postage prepaid, to all parties and their attorneys of record. The parties may file exceptions and responses to the exceptions as provided under KRS 350.0301(2). There shall be no other or further submissions.

††††† (6) The hearing officer shall recommend the amount of a civil penalty based exclusively on the record of the administrative hearing. The hearing officer may compute the amount of the penalty to be assessed irrespective of a computation offered by a party, and shall consider the same factors set forth in 405 KAR 7:092, Section 3(2) for consideration in setting proposed penalty assessments. The hearing officer shall state with particularity the reasons, supported by the record of the hearing, for the penalty recommended in his report.

††††† (7) Secretary's order.

††††† (a) The secretary shall consider the report and recommended order, exceptions filed, and responses to exceptions, and pass upon the case within a reasonable time. The secretary may remand the matter to the hearing officer, adopt the report and recommended order of the hearing officer as a final order, or issue his own final order.

††††† (b) The final order of the secretary shall be mailed postage prepaid to parties and their attorneys of record.

††††† (c) A final order of the secretary shall be based on substantial evidence appearing in the record as a whole and shall establish the decision of the secretary and the facts and law upon which the decision is based.

 

††††† Section 3. Standards of Conduct. (1) Ex parte communications.

††††† (a) Prohibition. Except to the extent required for the disposition of ex parte matters as authorized by law, there shall not be communication concerning the merits of a proceeding between office personnel and:

††††† 1. A party to the proceeding;

††††† 2, A person interested in the proceeding; or

††††† 3. A representative of a party or interested person.

††††† (b) If communication is made then it shall be made in the presence of all other parties or their representatives if oral, or, if written, furnished to all other parties.

††††† (c) Communications concerning case status or advice concerning compliance with procedural requirements shall not be prohibited unless the area of inquiry is in fact an area of controversy in the administrative hearing or conference.

††††† (d) Oral communications made in violation of this administrative regulation shall be reduced to writing in a memorandum by the person receiving the communication and shall be included in the record.

††††† (e) Written communications made in violation of this administrative regulation shall be included in the record. Copies of the memorandum or communication shall be provided to all parties, who shall be given an opportunity to respond in writing.

††††† (2) Sanctions. The hearing officer, who has responsibility for the matter in which a prohibited communication has been knowingly made, may impose appropriate sanctions on the offending person or persons, which may include requiring an offending party to show cause why his claim, motion, or interest should not be dismissed, denied, or otherwise adversely affected; and invoking the sanctions against other offending persons as appropriate.

††††† (3) Disqualification. The hearing officer shall withdraw from a case if he deems himself disqualified pursuant to the recognized canons of judicial ethics. If prior to a decision of the hearing officer an affidavit of personal bias or disqualification with substantiating facts is filed, and the hearing officer concerned does not withdraw, the secretary shall determine the matter of disqualification.

 

††††† Section 4. Service. (1) A proposed penalty assessment, notice of assessment conference, notice of administrative hearing, or other documents required to be served, including administrative summonses, shall be served either as established in 400 KAR 1:030 or pursuant to one (1) of the following methods:

††††† (a) The cabinet may send copies of documents to the person to be served or instructed to be served by the initiating party, by certified mail or by electronic mail pursuant to KRS 350.130. The cabinet shall enter this occurrence into the record; If the envelope is returned with an endorsement showing failure of delivery, that fact shall be entered in the record.

††††† (b) The cabinet shall file the return receipt, electronically generated receipt, or returned envelope in the record. Service by certified mail is complete upon delivery of the envelope or as provided by subsection (2) of this section. The return receipt, return envelope, or electronically generated receipt shall be proof of the time, place, and manner of service;

††††† (c) To the extent the United States postal regulations allow authorized representatives of local, state, or federal governmental offices to accept and sign for "addressee only" mail, signature by an authorized representative shall constitute service on the addressee;

††††† (d) The cabinet may cause the document, with necessary copies, to be transferred for service to a person authorized by the secretary or by a statute to deliver them, or to a person authorized to serve an action in a court of law who shall serve the documents, and the return endorsed thereon shall be proof of the time and manner of service; or

††††† (e) Service may be made upon a person issued a permit by the cabinet, upon a person specified as an operator in the permit application, or upon a person who has submitted an exploration notice or application pursuant to 405 KAR 8:020 by placing, in the United States mail as certified mail, return receipt requested, a copy of the document directed to the named agent for service or the permittee or the operator specified in the permit application (at the address specified on the face of the permit, at the permanent address for the permittee or operator specified in the permit application, or at a new address that has been specified in writing by the permittee or operator), or in the case of coal exploration, by placing, in the United States mail as certified mail, return receipt requested, a copy of the document directed to the person authorized to conduct the coal exploration and addressed to said person's permanent address as noted in the exploration notice or application.

††††† (2) Service shall be effective upon:

††††† (a)1. Acceptance of the document by a person eighteen (18) years of age or older;

††††† 2. Refusal to accept the document by a person at the permanent address;

††††† 3. The United States Postal Service's inability to deliver the document if properly addressed pursuant to subsection (1)(a) or (c) of this section; or

††††† 4. Upon failure to claim the document prior to its return to the cabinet by the United States Postal Service; or

††††† (b) Delivery of the document to the recipientís inbox by electronic mail as electronically communicated to the cabinet by an electronic registered receipt.

††††† (3) Methods of service authorized by statute, administrative regulation, or the civil rules for an action in a court of law shall be supplemental to and shall be accepted as an alternative to the methods of service specified in this section.

††††† (4) A copy of each document filed in a proceeding pending before the office shall be served by the filing party on all other parties in the case. If a party is represented by an attorney, the attorney shall be recognized as fully controlling the case. Service of a document relating to the proceeding shall be made upon the attorney in addition to other service specifically required by law or by order of the cabinet.

††††† (5) Service shall be made upon the cabinet by serving the Office of General Counsel and shall be effective upon receipt by the Office of General Counsel.

 

††††† Section 5. Administrative Summons and Public Notice of Hearing. (1) Upon receipt of an initiating document, the office shall promptly serve in accordance with Section 4 of this administrative regulation, a copy of the document upon all parties designated to be served along with an administrative summons notifying the responding party that an initiating document has been filed against him and unless a written defense is timely served, action adverse to his interests may be taken. At the direction of the hearing officer, the administrative summons may also designate that a prehearing conference or administrative hearing shall be held along with the date, time, and place of the prehearing conference or administrative hearing. An administrative summons shall also include a statement of the legal authority for the hearing and reference to the statutes and administrative regulations involved.

††††† (2) For all administrative hearings initiated pursuant to 405 KAR 7:092, Section 4, notice of the scheduled hearing shall be:

††††† (a) Mailed to interveners;

††††† (b) Posted at the department's appropriate regional office; and

††††† (c) Published in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the surface coal mining and reclamation operations or coal exploration operations, if practicable.

 

††††† Section 6. Filing and Retention of Documents. (1) Filing of documents. A document is considered filed in the office when the document is received and stamped by the office.

††††† (2)(a) Retention of documents. All documents, books, records, papers, etc., received in evidence in a hearing or submitted for the record in a proceeding before the cabinet shall be retained with the official record of the proceedings. The withdrawal of original documents may be permitted while the case is pending upon terms and conditions as may be directed by the hearing officer.

††††† (b) When an order of the secretary becomes final, the hearing officer may, upon request and after notice to the other parties, authorize the withdrawal of original exhibits or any part by the authorized party.

††††† (c) The substitution of true copies of exhibits or any part may be required by the hearing officer as a condition of granting permission for withdrawal.

††††† (3) Record address. A person who files a document for the record in connection with an administrative hearing shall state his mailing address, email address if one is available, facsimile number if one is available, and telephone number at the initial filing in the matter. If a person has a change of mailing address, email address, facsimile number, or telephone number then the new information shall be promptly served to the office with the file number relating to all matters in which he has made a filing. The successor of the person who filed the document shall likewise promptly inform the office of their interest in the matter and state their address and telephone number. A person who fails to furnish a record address and telephone number as required, shall not be entitled to notice in connection with the proceedings.

††††† (4) Transcripts. All administrative hearings shall be recorded verbatim and transcripts shall be made if requested by interested parties. Costs of transcripts shall be borne by the requesting parties. Fees for transcripts prepared from recordings by office employees shall be at rates that cover the cost of manpower, machine use, and materials. If the reporting is done pursuant to a contract between the reporter and the cabinet, costs of transcripts shall be at rates established by the contract.

 

††††† Section 7. Time. (1) Computation of time for the initiation of an administrative proceeding or the subsequent filing of a document shall be in accordance with KRS 446.030 and 400 KAR 1:030, Section 3.

††††† (2) The time for filing or serving a document may be extended by a hearing officer except for the time for filing a petition for an administrative hearing under 405 KAR 7:092 or if an extension is contrary to law or administrative regulation.

††††† (3) A request for an extension of time shall be filed within the time allowed for filing or serving the document.

 

††††† Section 8. Subpoenas. The office shall issue subpoenas requiring the attendance of witnesses or production of books, papers, documents, or tangible things designated therein, or both, at administrative hearings to be held before or at the taking of depositions to be held before other officers. Subpoenas shall be issued on a form approved by the office. A subpoena may be served by a person who is not less than eighteen (18) years of age. The original subpoena bearing a certificate of service shall be filed with the office or the subpoena may be served by certified mail, return receipt requested. The return receipt if signed by the addressee or his authorized agent shall constitute proof of service of the subpoena.

 

††††† Section 9. Location of Administrative Hearings and Penalty Assessment Conferences. (1) A penalty assessment conference shall be held in the department's regional office for the mine site, unless a closer location is approved by the conference officer.

††††† (2) Administrative hearings shall be held at the location designated by the hearing officer unless a written request for a hearing at or close to the mine site is submitted with the petition or other initiating document or answer upon the filing with the office of the petition or other initiating document or answer. The department's regional office for the mine site shall be deemed reasonably close, unless a closer location is requested by a party to the case and agreed to by the hearing officer.

 

††††† Section 10. Intervention and Consolidation. (1) A person may petition in writing for leave to intervene at any stage of a proceeding under 405 KAR 7:092. A petitioner shall establish a statement indicating the interest of the petitioner and, if required, a showing of why the interest is or may be adversely affected.

††††† (2) Criteria to intervene.

††††† (a) The hearing officer shall grant intervention if the petitioner:

††††† 1. Had a statutory right to initiate the proceeding in which he wishes to intervene; or

††††† 2. Has an interest that is or may be adversely affected by the outcome of the proceeding.

††††† (b) If the criteria established in paragraph (a) of this subsection does not apply, the hearing officer shall consider the following in determining if intervention is appropriate:

††††† 1. The nature of the issues;

††††† 2. The adequacy of representation of petitioner's interest which is provided by the existing parties to the proceeding;

††††† 3. The ability of the petitioner to present relevant evidence and argument; and

††††† 4. The effect of intervention on the cabinet's implementation of its statutory mandate.

††††† (3) Effect of ruling. A person granted leave to intervene in a proceeding may participate in the proceeding as a full party or in a limited capacity. If an intervenor wishes to participate in a limited capacity, the hearing officer shall determine the extent and terms of the participation, having due regard for the interests of justice and the orderly and prompt conduct of the proceedings.

††††† (4) Consolidation. If proceedings involving the same parties or a common question of law or fact are pending before the cabinet, the proceedings shall be subject to consolidation pursuant to a motion by a party or at the initiative of the hearing officer.

 

††††† Section 11. Judicial Review, Effect, and Subsequent Proceedings. (1) Judicial review. Judicial review may be taken from a final order of the secretary to the appropriate circuit court of competent jurisdiction in accordance with KRS 350.032 or 350.0305 as applicable.

††††† (2) Effect of final order pending judicial review. The commencement of proceedings for judicial review of a final order of the secretary shall not operate as a stay of a final order, unless specifically ordered by the court of competent jurisdiction.

††††† (3) Remands from courts. If a matter is remanded from a court for further proceedings, and to the extent the court's directive and time limitations will permit, the parties shall be allowed an opportunity to submit to the appropriate hearing officer, a report recommending procedures to be followed in order to comply with the court's order. The hearing officer shall review the reports and enter special orders governing the handling of matters remanded to it for further proceedings by a court. (19 Ky.R. 547; Am. 928; 1348; eff. 11-23-92; 38 Ky.R. 670; 998; 1304; eff. 2-3-12.)