Thunder Basin Coal Co. v. Reich, 510 U.S. 200, 12 (1994)

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Cite as: 510 U. S. 200 (1994)

Opinion of the Court

that "rapid abatement of violations is essential for the protection of miners," Leg. Hist. 618, Congress accordingly made improved penalties and enforcement measures a primary goal of the Act.

The 1977 Mine Act thus strengthened and streamlined health and safety enforcement requirements. The Act authorized the Secretary to compel payment of penalties and to enjoin habitual health and safety violators in federal district court. See Leg. Hist. 627; 30 U. S. C. 820( j) and 818(a). Assessment of civil penalties was made mandatory for all mines, and Congress expressly eliminated the power of a mine operator to challenge a final penalty assessment de novo in district court. Cf. Whitney Nat. Bank, 379 U. S., at 420 (that "Congress rejected a proposal for a de novo review in the district courts of Board decisions" supports a finding of district court preclusion).16 We consider the legislative history and these amendments to be persuasive evidence that Congress intended to direct ordinary challenges under the Mine Act to a single review process.

tors have the right to seek judicial review of penalty determinations, and may request a de novo trial on the issues in the U. S. District Courts. This encourages operators who are not pre-disposed to voluntarily pay assessed penalties to pursue cases through the elaborate administrative procedure and then to seek redress in the Courts. Since the District Courts are still reluctant to schedule trials on these cases, and the Department of Justice has been reluctant to pursue such cases in the courts, the matters generally languish at that stage, and the penalties go uncollected." Id., at 604.

16 The Senate Report's citation, see Leg. Hist. 602, of Bituminous Coal Operators' Assn. v. Secretary of Interior, 547 F. 2d 240 (CA4 1977) (holding that pre-enforcement district court challenges were not precluded under the 1969 Coal Act), does not support petitioner's claim that Congress intended to preserve district court jurisdiction over pre-enforcement suits. That case was cited for an unrelated proposition and does not constitute a "settled judicial construction" that Congress presumptively preserved. United States v. Powell, 379 U. S. 48, 55, n. 13 (1964); see also Keene Corp. v. United States, 508 U. S. 200, 207-209 (1993).


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