Mine review commission implements rule to streamline settlements

Overwhelmed by a backlog of cases that take more than a year to resolve, the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission implemented an interim rule to streamline the process for settling civil penalties assessed under the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act.

Since the MINER Act was passed four years ago, the 10 administrative law judges at FMSHRC have seen their individual case load increase to 764 apiece this fiscal year from an average of 176 in 2006, commission chair Mary Lu Jordan testified in a congressional hearing last February. As a result, cases now take twice as long to dispose.

According to the interim rule, scheduled to go into effect May 27, parties submitting a motion approving a penalty settlement also must submit a proposed order approving the settlement. The new rule requires both the motion and proposed order to be filed electronically.

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