Colorado AG launching independent investigation into air-quality whistleblower complaint

    BRIEF

    An image of Denver captured on Aug. 14, 2020, by state air-quality regulators as part of visibility monitoring efforts. (CDPHE)

    Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is moving to launch an independent investigation of allegations made last month by a group of whistleblowers that the state’s air-quality agency has for years illegally issued permits to industrial polluters.

    In a request for information issued on Monday, the Colorado Department of Law solicited proposals from outside law firms to serve as special assistant attorneys general and conduct the investigation. Proposals are due by May 10.

    “The factual investigation will consider allegations … that permits were unlawfully issued and that a (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) modeler was ordered to falsify data in a modeling report to ensure that no modeled violation would be reported,” the notice said.

    Three air-quality modelers with the CDPHE’s Air Pollution Control Division filed a whistleblower complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General on March 30, alleging a “pattern of unlawful conduct which is directly responsible for Colorado’s precipitous decline in air quality in the last decade.”

    CDPHE officials have denied that the agency’s practices are in violation of federal law.