Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

B&M Coal Corp. v. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation & Enforcement

ELR Citation: 13 ELR 20387
Nos. No. 82-1380, 699 F.2d 381/18 ERC 2123/(7th Cir., 02/01/1983) Aff'd

The court affirms a district court ruling, 12 ELR 20854, that the civil penalty prepayment requirement in §518(c) of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) is constitutional. The court holds that §518(c) does not violate the procedural due process guarantee of the Constitution. It first rules that the private interest at stake in the litigation, the company's use of the prepaid penalty money between the time it is paid and the time a wrongly assessed penalty is refunded with interest, is too small to make §518(c) unconstitutional. Next, the court holds that the administrative review procedures available before the penalty must be paid provide adequate protection against erroneous deprivation of the company's interest. Finally, the court rules that the governmental interest involved, the efficient collection of penalties assessed under SMCRA, is of sufficient mangnitude and the costs of providing a full evidentiary hearing are sufficiently large to render the prepayment requirement constitutional. The SMCRA penalty process is not the sort of summary action that has been held to require an adjudicatory hearing in other than extraordinary situations.

Counsel for Appellant
Halbert W. Kunz
Kunz & Kunz
320 N. Meridian St., Suite 528, Indianapolis IN 46204
(317) 632-6367

Counsel for Appellee
Robert L. Klarquist, Dirk D. Snel
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2731

Before PELL, Circuit Judge, SWYGERT, Senior Circuit Judge, and MAROVITZ, Senior District Judge.*