The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (“PHMSA”) issued a General Policy Statement for civil penalties (“Penalty Framework”) on October 17, 2016. The Penalty Framework allows a respondent in a PHMSA enforcement case to request a proposed civil penalty calculation related to its case, and provides a penalty range with corresponding factors used in calculating the penalty amount. Prior to publishing the Penalty Framework, the PHMSA only provided its civil penalty framework upon request.
In imposing a civil penalty, the PHMSA must consider five factors:
(1) The nature, circumstances and gravity of the violation, including adverse impact on the environment;
(2) The degree of the respondent’s culpability;
(3) The respondent’s history of prior offenses;
(4) Any good faith by the respondent in attempting to achieve compliance; and
(5) The effect on the respondent’s ability to continue in business.