2015 Code of Alabama
Title 22 - HEALTH, MENTAL HEALTH, AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL.
Title 1 - HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL GENERALLY.
Chapter 22A - ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT.
Section 22-22A-5 - Powers and functions of department; representation of department by Attorney General in legal actions.

AL Code § 22-22A-5 (2015) What's This?

Section 22-22A-5

Powers and functions of department; representation of department by Attorney General in legal actions.

In addition to any other powers and functions which may be conferred upon it by law, the department is authorized beginning October 1, 1982 to:

(1) Administer appropriate portions of Sections 9-7-10 through 9-7-20, which relate to permitting, regulatory and enforcement functions; administer and enforce the provisions and execute the functions of Chapter 28 of this title; Chapter 22 of this title; Article 2 of Chapter 23 of this title; Chapter 30 of this title; appropriate portions of Article 1 of Chapter 27 of this title; Sections 22-24-1 through 22-24-11; Sections 22-25-1 through 22-25-15; and Sections 22-36-1 through 22-36-10.

(2) Acting through the Environmental Management Commission, promulgate rules, regulations, and standards in order to carry out the provisions and intent of this chapter; provided, however, that prior to the promulgation of any state primary or secondary drinking water standard governed by Sections 22-23-30 through 22-23-53 or any regulations dealing with hazardous wastes governed by Sections 22-30-1 through 22-30-24, the department shall receive the approval of the State Board of Health. The State Board of Health shall provide the department a response to its request for approval within 60 days of receipt of such request unless such other time is mutually agreed upon by the department and the State Board of Health.

(3) Acting through the Environmental Management Commission, adopt and promulgate rules, regulations, and standards for the department, and to develop environmental policy for the state.

(4) Consistent with the provisions in subsection 22-22A-4(n), serve as the State Agency responsible for administering federally approved or federally delegated environmental programs.

(5) Serve as the state's clearinghouse for environmental data. The clearinghouse shall be developed in coordination and cooperation with other governmental data collection and record keeping systems to provide for an inventory, and for the cataloguing and dissemination of environmental information.

(6) Report, as appropriate, to the Governor and to the Legislature on the programs and activities of the department and to recommend needed changes in legislation or administrative practice.

(7) Develop, conduct, and disseminate education and training programs. Pursuant to this authority, the department shall establish a citizens' advisory committee to provide input into such education and training programs.

(8) Enter into agreements and contracts, where appropriate, with other state agencies, the federal government or private individuals, in order to accomplish the purposes of this chapter.

(9) Establish and maintain regional or field offices in order to provide more effective and efficient services to the citizens of the state.

(10) Issue, modify, suspend, or revoke orders, citations, notices of violation, licenses, certifications, or permits.

(11) Hold hearings relating to any provision of this chapter or relating to the administration thereof.

(12) Enforce all provisions of this chapter and all provisions of law identified in subdivision (1) of this section and to file legal actions in the name of the department and to prosecute, defend or settle actions brought by or against the department or its agents. The Attorney General shall represent the department in any and all legal actions brought by the department to enforce any provisions of this chapter; provided however, that if, within a reasonable time after the department refers the matter to the Attorney General, the Attorney General fails to file any such action, then the department may commence appropriate legal action. Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed so as to impair the authority of the Attorney General to independently enforce the provisions of this chapter.

(13) When necessary to achieve conformance with Sections 9-7-10 through 9-7-20, acquire fee simple or less than fee simple, interest in land, water, and other property under the procedures of Title 18 or other means; provided, however, that such power shall not apply to property and interest therein which is devoted to public use.

(14) Apply for, where appropriate, accept, receive, and administer grants or other funds or gifts from public and private agencies, including the federal government, for the purpose of carrying out any of the functions, purposes, or provisions of this chapter or any of the functions or provisions transferred to the department by this chapter.

(15) Employ such professional, technical, clerical, and other workers including attorneys and special counsel, and such consultants as are necessary and within available funds to carry out the purposes of this chapter.

(16) Adopt rules and regulations relating to charging and collecting fees sufficient to cover the reasonable anticipated costs to be incurred by the department and directly related to the issuance, reissuance, modification, or denial of any permit, license, certification, or variance, such fees to include, but not be limited to, the reasonable anticipated cost of the examination and processing of applications, plans, specifications, or any other data and any necessary public hearings and investigations; provided, however, that nothing in this subdivision shall be construed as modifying or affecting the provisions of Section 22-24-5. A schedule of estimated reasonable anticipated costs shall be appended to rules and regulations with the understanding that fees may be higher or lower on a case-by-case basis.

(17) In addition to any other remedies provided by law, recover in a civil action from any person who has violated, or threatens to violate, any provision of this chapter, or any provision of law identified in subdivision (1) of this section, or any rule or regulation promulgated thereunder, or any order, or condition of any permit, license, certification, or variance issued by the department pursuant thereto, the actual costs reasonably incurred by the department to prevent, minimize or abate any adverse effect on air, land, or water resources which results or may result from such violation. Such civil actions may be filed in the circuit court of the county in which the defendant resides or does business, or in which the violation or threatened violation occurs or in which the adverse effect occurs.

(18)a. Issue an order assessing a civil penalty to any person who violates any provision of law identified in subdivision (1) of this section, any rule, regulation, or standard promulgated by the department, any provision of any order, or any condition of any permit, license, certification, or variance issued by the department, provided however, that no such order shall be issued to a person:

1. If a civil action to recover a penalty for such violation has been commenced against such person as provided in paragraph b. of this subdivision.

2. For any violation at a coal mining operation regulated under Sections 9-16-70 through 9-16-107 or Title V of Public Law 95-87, 30 U.S.C. § 1251-1279.

3. If an order assessing a civil penalty for such violation has been issued to such person pursuant to subdivision (2) of subsection 22-28-23(b).

4. Who is a responsible corporate officer subject to a civil action for the recovery of a penalty under paragraph b. of this subdivision.

The department shall commence enforcement action under this paragraph by notifying the person subject thereto in writing of the alleged violation and affording the person an opportunity for an informal conference with the director or his or her designated representative concerning the alleged violation and any proposed order. The informal conference shall not be subject to the procedures for hearings under Section 22-22A-7. Before issuing any consent or unilateral order under this section, the department shall cause public notice to be published for one day in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where the alleged violation occurred and on the website of the department for the duration of the comment period; provided, however, that unavailability of the website during the comment period shall not affect the validity of an order issued under this paragraph. The notice shall reasonably describe the nature and location of the alleged violation and the amount of civil penalty proposed, contain a summary of any proposed corrective measures, provide instructions for obtaining a copy of the proposed order, and indicate that persons may submit written comments to the department and request a hearing on the proposed order within 30 days of the first date of publication. The department may hold a hearing if the information submitted in support of the request is material and if a hearing may clarify one or more issues raised in the written comments. If the department grants a request for a hearing, the department shall provide written notice of the time, date, and location of the hearing by regular mail at least 20 days prior to the hearing to all persons subject to the proposed order and all persons who submitted written comments on the proposed order that contain a current return address. At any such hearing, the department shall provide a reasonable opportunity for persons subject to the proposed order and persons who submitted written comments on the proposed order to be heard and to submit information to the director or his or her designated representative, provided, however, that the hearing shall not be subject to the procedures for hearings under Section 22-22A-7, or practices or procedures governing public hearings. The department shall also accept additional written comments from any interested party that are received on or before the date of the hearing. After consideration of written comments, any information submitted at the hearing, if one was held, and any other publicly available information, the department may issue the order as proposed, issue a modified order, or withdraw the proposed order. Any order issued under this paragraph shall include findings of fact relied upon by the department in determining the alleged violation and the amount of the civil penalty and shall be served on persons subject to the order in the manner provided for service of process in the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure. Upon issuance of an order, the department shall also provide written notice of the order by regular mail to each person who submitted written comments on the proposed order that contain a current return address. The notice shall reasonably describe the nature and location of the alleged violation and the amount of civil penalty, contain a summary of any required corrective measures, provide instructions for obtaining a copy of the order, and indicate that persons who submitted written comments on the proposed order may, within 30 days of the issuance of the order, request a hearing on the order before the Environmental Management Commission in accordance with Section 22-22A-7. Where the department has issued an order finding that a violation has occurred and assessing a civil penalty, the person subject thereto shall, unless the department and that person agree on a different schedule, pay the penalty in full within 45 days after issuance of such order unless any person has filed a timely request for a hearing to contest the issuance of such order in accordance with Section 22-22A-7, in which case the penalty assessed in the order as approved or modified by the Environmental Management Commission shall, unless the department and that person agree on a different schedule, be paid in full within 30 days after the order is approved or modified by the Environmental Management Commission or, if an appeal thereof is taken to circuit court, within 42 days after the court affirms the order as approved or modified by the Environmental Management Commission. Civil penalties assessed in an order under this paragraph and not paid as provided herein may be recovered in a civil action brought by the department in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County or the county in which the defendant does business.

b. Commence a civil action in the circuit court of the county in which the defendant or any material defendant resides or does business or in which the violation occurred to recover a civil penalty from such person for any violation of any provision of law identified in subdivision (1) of this section, any rule, regulation, or standard promulgated by the department, any provision of any order or any condition of any permit, license, certification, or variance issued by the department, provided however, that no such civil action may be commenced against a person if an order assessing a civil penalty for such violation has been issued to such person under paragraph a. of this subdivision. Whenever such person is a corporation and the violation is of a provision of law in Chapter 22 of this title, or any rule, regulation, or standard promulgated by the department thereunder, or any provision of any order or any condition of any permit, license, certification, or variance issued by the department thereunder, the same civil penalties that may be imposed upon a person under this subdivision may be imposed upon the responsible corporate officers in a civil action. Any person having an interest which is or may be adversely affected may intervene as a matter of right in any civil action commenced under this paragraph. The Attorney General may also commence a civil action under this paragraph.

c. Any civil penalty assessed or recovered under paragraph a. or b. of this subdivision shall not exceed $25,000.00 for each violation, provided however, that the total penalty assessed in an order issued by the department under paragraph a. of this subdivision shall not exceed $250,000.00. Each day such violation continues shall constitute a separate violation for purposes of this subdivision. In determining the amount of any penalty, consideration shall be given to the seriousness of the violation, including any irreparable harm to the environment and any threat to the health or safety of the public; the standard of care manifested by such person; the economic benefit which delayed compliance may confer upon such person; the nature, extent, and degree of success of such person's efforts to minimize or mitigate the effects of such violation upon the environment; such person's history of previous violations; and the ability of such person to pay such penalty. Civil penalties may be assessed under this subdivision for any violation occurring within two years prior to the date of issuance of an order under paragraph a. of this subdivision or commencement of such civil action under paragraph b. of this subdivision. All civil penalties recovered under this subdivision by the department or Attorney General shall be deposited into the State Treasury to the credit of the General Fund, except that portion which represents the reasonable costs incurred by the department or Attorney General to recover such penalties which shall be deposited to the credit of the operating fund of the department or Attorney General, whichever incurred such costs.

(19) Commence a civil action in the circuit court of the county in which the defendant or any material defendant resides or does business or in which the threatened or continuing violation of any provision of law identified in subdivision (1) of this section, any rule, regulation, or standard promulgated by the department, any provision of any order, or any condition of any permit, license, certification, or variance issued by the department. The Attorney General or district attorney having jurisdiction in the circuit, county or territory in which the threatened or continuing violation occurs may also commence a civil action to enjoin such violation. In any such action, any person having an interest which is or may be adversely affected may intervene as a matter of right.

(20) Perform any other duty or take any other action necessary for the implementation and enforcement of this chapter.

(Acts 1982, No. 82-612, p. 1111, §5; Acts 1984, 1st Ex. Sess., No. 84-783, p. 163, §1; Acts 1986, No. 86-542, p. 1053, §1; Acts 1988, No. 88-537, p. 823, §9; Act 2003-397, p. 1136, §1; Act 2011-612, p. 1356, §1.)

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