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National Mining Association v. Office of Hearings and Appeals

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20154
Nos. No. 1:04-cv-00128, (D.D.C., 04/15/2011)

A district court dismissed a mining industry association's action challenging DOI Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) regulations allocating the burden of proof in five types of administrative proceedings under SMCRA. The association argued that the regulations impermissibly shift the ultimate burden of persuasion from the proponent of the regulation, as required by the APA, to the entity challenging agency action. It relied on APA §556(d), which clearly states that unless “otherwise provided by statute, the proponent of a rule or order has the burden of proof.” With respect to the challenged regulations, however, SMCRA provides for a burden of proof distinct from that set forth in APA §556(d). As such, where a statute so provides, an agency is free to place the burden of proof on a party other than the proponent of a rule or order. The OHA's decision was therefore neither arbitrary nor capricious.