2010 Georgia Code
TITLE 12 - CONSERVATION AND NATURAL RESOURCES
CHAPTER 4 - MINERAL RESOURCES AND CAVES
ARTICLE 2 - MINING AND DRILLING
PART 2 - DEEP DRILLING FOR OIL, GAS, AND OTHER MINERALS
§ 12-4-48 - Actions by director to enforce part; civil penalties; effect of Code section on cause of action by royalty owners, lienholders, or other claimants
. Actions by director to enforce part; civil penalties; effect of Code section on cause of action by royalty owners, lienholders, or other claimants
(a) Whenever the director has reason to believe that any person is violating the provisions of this part or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant to this part, the director may issue an administrative order to that person. The order shall specify the provisions of this part alleged to have been violated and shall order that corrective action be taken within a reasonable period of time prescribed in the order. Any such order shall become final and enforceable unless the person or persons named therein request in writing a hearing before an administrative law judge appointed by the board no later than 30 days after the issuance of the order.
(b) Whenever the director finds that an emergency exists requiring immediate action to protect the public interest, the director may issue a provisional order reciting the existence of such an emergency and requiring that such action be taken as is reasonably necessary to meet the emergency under the circumstances, provided that such an emergency order shall be issued only after an affidavit has been filed with the director showing specific facts of such an emergency condition. Such order shall be effective immediately. Any person against whom such order is directed shall upon appropriate notice comply therewith immediately but on application to the director shall be afforded a hearing before an administrative law judge appointed by the board within ten days of receipt of such application by the director or, if the party applying so requests, within 48 hours of receipt of such application by the director. Prior to such hearing, the director shall be authorized to modify or revoke such order. After the hearing, the administrative law judge shall be authorized to make such order as is just and reasonable, including an order continuing, revoking, or modifying such provisional order.
(c) Whenever the director has reason to believe that any person is violating any provision of this part or any rule or regulation adopted pursuant to this part, the director may bring an action against such person in the proper superior court to restrain such person or persons from continuing such violations. In such action, the director may seek injunctions, including temporary restraining orders and temporary injunctions, without the necessity for showing lack of an adequate remedy at law.
(d) Any person who willfully or negligently violates any provision of this part, any rule or regulation adopted under this part, or any permit or final or emergency order of the director shall be subject to a civil penalty of not less than $50.00, but in any event not to exceed $10,000.00 for each act of violation. Each day of continued violation shall subject such person to a separate civil penalty. An administrative law judge appointed by the board, after a hearing shall determine whether or not any person has violated any provision of this part or any rule or regulation adopted under this part or any permit or final or emergency order of the director, and shall upon proper finding issue an order imposing such civil penalties as provided in this Code section. Any person so penalized under this Code section is entitled to judicial review. In this connection, all hearings and proceedings for judicial review under this Code section shall be in accordance with Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act." All civil penalties recovered by the director as provided by this chapter shall be paid into the state treasury to the credit of the general fund.
(e) (1) In addition to any other enforcement remedy available to the director under this part, all illegal minerals and illegal products are declared to be contraband and forfeited to the state and shall be confiscated and seized by any peace officer who shall forthwith deliver it to the director or his duly authorized agent within ten days of the seizure.
(2) The district attorney whose circuit includes the county in which the seizure is made, within 30 days after the seizure of any illegal minerals or illegal products, shall institute proceedings by petition in the superior court of any county where the seizure was made against the property so seized and against any and all persons known to have an interest in or right affected by the seizure or sale of such property. A copy of such petition shall be served upon the owner or lessee of such property, if known, and upon the person or persons having custody or possession of such property at the time of the confiscation or seizure. If the owner or lessee or person or persons having custody or possession of such property at the time of seizure is unknown, notice of such proceedings shall be published once a week for two consecutive weeks in the newspaper in which sheriff's advertisements of the county are published. Such publication shall be deemed notice to any and all persons having an interest in or right affected by such proceeding and any sale of the property resulting therefrom. If no defense or intervention shall be filed within 30 days from the filing of the petition, judgment by default shall be entered by the court; otherwise the case shall proceed as civil cases. Should the mineral or mineral product be found to be illegal within the sense of this part, the same shall be decreed to be contraband and ordered sold under such terms as the judge in his order may direct. The judge may order the same sold in bulk, in lots, in parcels, or under such other regulations as may be deemed proper. The proceeds arising from such sale shall be applied:
(A) To the payment of proper costs and expenses, including expenses incurred in the seizure;
(B) To the payment of the cost of the court and its officers;
(C) To the payment of any cost incurred in the storage, advertisement, maintenance, or care of such property; and
(D) If any money remains, to the state treasury to the credit of the general fund.
(3) Where the owner or lessee of any property seized for purpose of condemnation shall abscond or conceal himself so that the actual notice of the condemnation proceedings cannot be served upon him, he shall be served by publication as is provided in this Code section in the case of an unknown owner or lessee.
(4) All proceedings against any alleged illegal minerals or for the purpose of condemnation shall be proceedings in rem against the property, and the property shall be described only in general terms. It is the intent and purpose of the procedure provided by this Code section to provide a civil remedy for the condemnation and sale of contraband property.
(5) The court shall have full discretion and authority to permit a settlement between the parties at any stage of the proceedings by permitting the value of the alleged illegal minerals or illegal products to be paid into court, as determined by the court, which money when so paid in shall be distributed as provided by law in all cases of condemnation.
(6) Nothing in this Code section shall deny or abridge any cause of action a royalty owner, lienholder, or other claimant may have against any persons whose acts result in the forfeiture of the illegal oil, illegal gas, or illegal product.
Graham Syfert - Jacksonville Lawyer