34-53-9Pipeline company objection to approval or denial of claim--Review--Appeal.

A pipeline company that disputes the approval or denial, in whole or in part, of a claim under § 34-53-5 may, within ten days of the date of the action notice, submit its objection in good faith, together with a statement of the basis for the objection, and request a review from the secretary. The secretary shall make an expeditious review of the director's action notice and may approve, modify, condition, or deny the claim, in whole or in part. The secretary's review must be exhausted before any appeal to the Office of Hearing Examiners.

A pipeline company may appeal the secretary's decision, if the pipeline company has properly preserved its appeal by giving written notice to the secretary within ten days of the date of the secretary's decision.

The pipeline company may commence one administrative appeal annually arising out of all decisions, joined for judicial efficiency, dated during the preceding calendar year from which the pipeline company wishes to appeal. The pipeline company shall file a written notice of appeal with the Office of Hearing Examiners. Copies of the written notice must be served on the secretary and any other interested party no later than the first of March or the appeal is barred. A written notice of appeal shall identify each disputed and properly preserved claim with a decision in the prior calendar year.

An appeal under this section shall be conducted by a hearing examiner in accordance with chapter 1-26D. The hearing examiner, after hearing the evidence, shall make proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, and issue a proposed decision. The secretary shall accept, reject, or modify the hearing examiner's findings, conclusions, and decision, which then constitutes the final agency decision. Alternatively, the secretary may appoint the hearing examiner to make the final agency decision. The secretary may arrange for assistance from private counsel throughout the administrative appeal process. The final agency decision may be appealed to circuit court in accordance with chapter 1-26. A pipeline company has standing to appeal under this section.

The appeal under this section is the exclusive remedy of a pipeline company regarding the disbursement of a claim of extraordinary expense and constitutes a limited express waiver of sovereign immunity only to the extent necessary under this section. The venue for any disputed claim and appeal under this section is Hughes County. Pre-judgment interest shall accrue from the date of the secretary's final decision on all disputed claims at the Category B rate of interest specified in § 54-3-16.

Source: SL 2019, ch 157, § 9, eff. Mar. 27, 2019.

Commission Note: This section is repealed effective June 30, 2025 pursuant to SL 2019, ch 157, § 19.