Report: Colorado Air Quality Division Gave Permits Despite EPA Standard Violations

Colorado’s Air Pollution Control Division allegedly issued multiple air quality permits to facilities despite predictive models demonstrating those facilities could violate pollution standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

These findings were released in a report from the Colorado Attorney General’s office.

Case background

In response to the report, state health officials say they lacked sufficient guidance from the EPA to know when they should estimate whether the state’s polluters could exceed air quality limits on certain pollutants. Managers from the Division said there was no intention to violate the law.

However, the manager of the division, Garry Kaufman, failed to disclose multiple conflicts of interest he had with a Teller County gold mine for more than two and a half years.

The investigation began after a group of three whistleblowers who had worked for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment submitted a complaint about the issue, as well as claims of fraud and suppression (which ended up being unsubstantiated). The whistleblowers alleged Kaufman told managers to tell employees they should not review or model these projected emissions for smaller facilities for any particulates less than 2.5 micrometers, or for gases like sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, all of which lead to unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone.

Federal guidelines for smaller polluters can be unclear, according to the report.

If you become aware of wrongdoing within your organization, contact an experienced whistleblower attorney at Kardell Law Group to determine what legal options you have moving forward.