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TITLE 16ECONOMIC REGULATION
PART 1RAILROAD COMMISSION OF TEXAS
CHAPTER 14REGULATIONS FOR LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS (LNG)
SUBCHAPTER AGENERAL APPLICABILITY AND REQUIREMENTS
RULE §14.2015Penalty Guidelines for LNG Safety Violations

(a) Policy. Improved safety and environmental protection are the desired outcomes of any enforcement action. Encouraging licensees and certificate holders to take appropriate voluntary corrective and future protective actions once a violation has occurred is an effective component of the enforcement process. Deterrence of violations through penalty assessments is also a necessary and effective component of the enforcement process. A rule-based enforcement penalty guideline to evaluate and rank LNG-related violations is consistent with the central goal of the Commission's enforcement efforts to promote compliance. Penalty guidelines set forth in this section will provide a framework for more uniform and equitable assessment of penalties throughout the state, while also enhancing the integrity of the Commission's enforcement program.

(b) Only guidelines. This section complies with the requirements of Texas Natural Resources Code, §81.0531. The penalty amounts contained in the tables in this section are provided solely as guidelines to be considered by the Commission in determining the amount of administrative penalties for violations of provisions of Texas Natural Resources Code, Title 3, Chapter 116, relating to compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas; of rules, orders, licenses, permits, or certificates relating to LNG safety adopted under those provisions; and of regulations, codes, or standards that the Commission has adopted by reference.

(c) Commission authority. The establishment of these penalty guidelines shall in no way limit the Commission's authority and discretion to assess administrative penalties. The typical minimum penalties listed in this section are for the most common violations cited; however, this is neither an exclusive nor an exhaustive list of violations that the Commission may cite. The Commission retains full authority and discretion to cite violations of Texas Natural Resources Code, Title 3, Chapter 116, relating to compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas; of rules, orders, licenses, permits, or certificates relating to LNG safety adopted or issued under those provisions; and of regulations, codes, or standards that the Commission has adopted by reference, and to assess administrative penalties in any amount up to the statutory maximum when warranted by the facts in any case.

(d) Factors considered. The amount of any penalty requested, recommended, or finally assessed in an enforcement action will be determined on an individual case-by-case basis for each violation, taking into consideration the following factors:

  (1) the person's history of previous violations;

  (2) the seriousness of the previous violations;

  (3) any hazard to the health or safety of the public; and

  (4) the demonstrated good faith of the person charged.

(e) Typical penalties. Regardless of the method by which the typical penalty amount is calculated, the total penalty amount will be within the statutory maximum. Typical penalties for violations of provisions of Texas Natural Resources Code, Title 3, Chapter 116, relating to compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas; of rules, orders, licenses, permits, or certificates relating to LNG safety adopted under those provisions; and of regulations, codes, or standards that the Commission has adopted by reference, are set forth in Table 1.

Attached Graphic

(f) Penalty enhancements for certain violations. For violations that involve threatened or actual safety hazards, or that result from the reckless or intentional conduct of the person charged, the Commission may assess an enhancement of the typical penalty. The enhancement may be in any amount in the range shown for each type of violation, as shown in Table 2.

Attached Graphic

(g) Penalty enhancements for certain violators. For violations in which the person charged has a history of prior violations within seven years of the current enforcement action, the Commission may assess an enhancement based on either the number of prior violations or the total amount of previous administrative penalties, but not both. The actual amount of any penalty enhancement will be determined on an individual case-by-case basis for each violation. The guidelines in Tables 3 and 4 are intended to be used separately. Either guideline may be used where applicable, but not both.

Attached Graphic

Attached Graphic

(h) Penalty reduction for settlement before hearing. The recommended monetary penalty for a violation may be reduced by up to 50% if the person charged agrees to a settlement before the Commission conducts an administrative hearing to prosecute a violation. Once the hearing is convened, the opportunity for the person charged to reduce the basic monetary penalty is no longer available. The reduction applies to the basic penalty amount requested and not to any requested enhancements.

(i) Demonstrated good faith. In determining the total amount of any monetary penalty requested, recommended, or finally assessed in an enforcement action, the Commission may consider, on an individual case-by-case basis for each violation, the demonstrated good faith of the person charged. Demonstrated good faith includes, but is not limited to, actions taken by the person charged before the filing of an enforcement action to remedy, in whole or in part, a violation or to mitigate the consequences of a violation.

(j) Other sanctions. Depending upon the nature of and the consequences resulting from a violation of the rules in this chapter, the Commission may impose a non-monetary penalty, such as requiring attendance at a safety training course, or may issue a warning.

(k) Penalty calculation worksheet. The penalty calculation worksheet shown in Table 5 lists the typical penalty amounts for certain violations; the circumstances justifying enhancements of a penalty and the amount of the enhancement; and the circumstances justifying a reduction in a penalty and the amount of the reduction.

Attached Graphic


Source Note: The provisions of this §14.2015 adopted to be effective August 27, 2012, 37 TexReg 6574

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