22.18 Quick resolution; settlement; alternative dispute resolution.§ 22.18 Quick resolution; settlement; alternative dispute resolution.
(a) Quick resolution. (1) A respondent may resolve the proceeding at any time by paying the specific penalty proposed in the complaint or in complainant's prehearing exchange in full as specified by complainant and by filing with the Regional Hearing Clerk a copy of the check or other instrument of payment. If the complaint contains a specific proposed penalty and respondent pays that proposed penalty in full within 30 days after receiving the complaint, then no answer need be filed. This paragraph (a) shall not apply to any complaint which seeks a compliance or corrective action order or Permit Action. In a proceeding subject to the public comment provisions of § 22.45, this quick resolution is not available until 10 days after the close of the comment period.
(2) Any respondent who wishes to resolve a proceeding by paying the proposed penalty instead of filing an answer, but who needs additional time to pay the penalty, may file a written statement with the Regional Hearing Clerk within 30 days after receiving the complaint stating that the respondent agrees to pay the proposed penalty in accordance with paragraph (a)(1) of this section. The written statement need not contain any response to, or admission of, the allegations in the complaint. Within 60 days after receiving the complaint, the respondent shall pay the full amount of the proposed penalty. Failure to make such payment within 60 days of receipt of the complaint may subject the respondent to default pursuant to § 22.17.
(3) Upon receipt of payment in full, the Regional Judicial Officer or Regional Administrator, or, in a proceeding commenced at EPA Headquarters, the Environmental Appeals Board, shall issue a final order. Payment by respondent shall constitute a waiver of respondent's rights to contest the allegations and to appeal the final order.
(b) Settlement. (1) The Agency encourages settlement of a proceeding at any time if the settlement is consistent with the provisions and objectives of the Act and applicable regulations. The parties may engage in settlement discussions whether or not the respondent requests a hearing. Settlement discussions shall not affect the respondent's obligation to file a timely answer under § 22.15.
(2) Consent agreement. Any and all terms and conditions of a settlement shall be recorded in a written consent agreement signed by all parties or their representatives. The consent agreement shall state that, for the purpose of the proceeding, respondent: Admits the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint; admits the facts stipulated in the consent agreement or neither admits nor denies specific factual allegations contained in the complaint; consents to the assessment of any stated civil penalty, to the issuance of any specified compliance or corrective action order, to any conditions specified in the consent agreement, and to any stated Permit Action; and waives any right to contest the allegations and its right to appeal the proposed final order accompanying the consent agreement. Where complainant elects to commence a proceeding pursuant to § 22.13(b), the consent agreement shall also contain the elements described at § 22.14(a)(1)-(3) and (8). The parties shall forward the executed consent agreement and a proposed final order to the Regional Judicial Officer or Regional Administrator, or, in a proceeding commenced at EPA Headquarters, the Environmental Appeals Board.
(3) Conclusion of proceeding. No settlement or consent agreement shall dispose of any proceeding under these Consolidated Rules of Practice without a final order from the Regional Judicial Officer or Regional Administrator, or, in a proceeding commenced at EPA Headquarters, the Environmental Appeals Board, ratifying the parties' consent agreement.
(c) Scope of resolution or settlement. Full payment of the penalty proposed in a complaint pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section or settlement pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section shall not in any case affect the right of the Agency or the United States to pursue appropriate injunctive or other equitable relief or criminal sanctions for any violations of law. Full payment of the penalty proposed in a complaint pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section or settlement pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section shall only resolve respondent's liability for Federal civil penalties for the violations and facts alleged in the complaint.
(d) Alternative means of dispute resolution. (1) The parties may engage in any process within the scope of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act (“ADRA”), 5 U.S.C. 581 et seq., which may facilitate voluntary settlement efforts. Such process shall be subject to the confidentiality provisions of the ADRA.
(2) Dispute resolution under this paragraph (d) does not divest the Presiding Officer of jurisdiction and does not automatically stay the proceeding. All provisions of these Consolidated Rules of Practice remain in effect notwithstanding any dispute resolution proceeding.
(3) The parties may choose any person to act as a neutral, or may move for the appointment of a neutral. If the Presiding Officer grants a motion for the appointment of a neutral, the Presiding Officer shall forward the motion to the Chief Administrative Law Judge, except in proceedings under subpart I of this part, in which the Presiding Officer shall forward the motion to the Regional Administrator. The Chief Administrative Law Judge or Regional Administrator, as appropriate, shall designate a qualified neutral.