West Virginia Code
CHAPTER 24B. GAS PIPELINE SAFETY.
ARTICLE 4. HEARINGS; BURDEN OF PROOF; ENFORCEMENT.
To carry out the purposes of this chapter, the commission is authorized to conduct conferences, formal and informal hearings, to make findings of fact and conclusions of law, and to enter orders with respect to any issues that may arise under this chapter.
Where an issue is made of the propriety of a plan submitted under section two, article three hereof, the burden of proof of the propriety of such plan shall be on the pipeline company submitting such plan.
The commission shall prescribe rules of practice and procedure, the method and manner of holding hearings, and for taking evidence on all matters that may come before it, and enter such orders as may be just and lawful. In the investigations, preparations, and hearings of cases, the commission shall not be bound by the technical rules of pleadings and evidence, but in that respect it may exercise such discretion as will facilitate its efforts to understand and learn all the facts bearing upon the right and justness of the matter before it.
The commission shall, either as a commission or by any of its members, or by designated employees, subpoena witnesses, take testimony, administer oaths to any witness in any proceeding or examination instituted before or conducted by it with reference to any matter within its jurisdiction hereunder. In all hearings or proceedings before the commission or its designated employees, the evidence of witnesses and the production of documentary evidence may be required at any designated place of hearing within the state; and in the case of disobedience to a subpoena or other process, the commission or any party to the proceedings before the commission may invoke the aid of any circuit court in the state in requiring the evidence and testimony of witnesses and the production of papers, books, and documents. And such court, in case of refusal to obey this subpoena issued to any person or other witness, shall issue an order requiring such person or other witness to appear before the commission or designated employees and produce books and papers, if so ordered, and give evidence touching the matter in question. Any failure to obey such order of the court may be punished by such court as contempt thereof. A claim that such testimonial evidence may intend to incriminate the witness giving the same shall not excuse any witness from testifying, but such witness shall not be prosecuted for any offense concerning which he is compelled hereunder to testify.
The commission may compel obedience to its lawful orders by mandamus or injunction or other proper proceedings in the name of the state in any circuit court having jurisdiction of the parties or of the subject matter, or the Supreme Court of Appeals direct.
(a) Any person who violates any provision of this chapter or any valid regulation or order issued thereunder is subject to a civil penalty to be imposed by the commission not to exceed $200,000 for each violation for each day the violation persists: Provided, That the maximum aggregate civil penalty may not exceed $2 million for any related series of violations.
(b) Any civil penalty may be compromised by the commission. In determining the amount of penalty, or the amount agreed upon in compromise, the commission shall consider the appropriateness of the penalty to the size of the business of the person charged, the gravity of the violation, and the good faith of the person charged in attempting to achieve compliance after notification of the violation. The amount of the penalty, when finally determined, or the amount agreed upon in compromise, may be deducted from any sums owing by the state to the person charged or may be recovered in a civil action in the state courts.
(c) Civil penalties collected by the commission under this section shall be submitted to the Treasurer for deposit into the General Revenue Fund.
(d) No civil penalty paid under this section may be considered by the commission in support of any application for a rate increase submitted by the violator.