July 15, 2022
EPA Report Confirms Several Whistleblower Claims Submitted By Employees Of Colorado’s Air Pollution Control Division
The Office of the Inspector General with the United States Environmental Protection Agency released a report Thursday confirming and agreeing with many of the whistleblower claims submitted last year by three employees of the Colorado Air Pollution Division.
The employees submitted a complaint to the EPA’s inspector general in March 2021 claiming the state agency bypassed federally mandated modeling in order to speed up permitting for 11 facilities, which include a gold mine, multiple asphalt plants, and a coal mine.
The employees also claimed the alleged halt to modeling is part of a years-long pattern of unlawful state actions responsible for the state’s decline in air quality during the last decade.
The EPA report said Colorado’s failure to consider potential air quality violations from modeling is inconsistent with state and EPA rules limiting air pollution through permitting.
Among the measures suggested in the report, the EPA is recommending Colorado conduct modeling for the 11 permits identified in the whistleblower complaint and incorporate or revise permit conditions.
The whistleblowers also alleged the division’s former director, Gary Kaufman, performed a conflict of interest by signing off on pollution exemptions for the Cripple Creek mine and its operator Newmont Corp., a client he represented as an attorney in private practice.
The EPA acknowledged the state has already taken steps to address the issues and recommendations raised in the report and is seeking a response by October 21st.
Colorado PUC To Hold Statewide Community Meetings Discussing Upcoming Gas Utility Plans As Required By New Law To Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission will conduct six meetings across the state beginning July 21st in order to gain public input to concepts surrounding “clean heat plans” that gas utilities will submit beginning in 2023.
A state law passed in 2021 requires gas utilities to submit plans showing how the utility will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by four percent in 2025, and 22 percent by 2030.
The reductions will be based on 2015 amounts.
According to the PUC, a clean heat plan can include options to meet regulations, such as replacing traditional gas as a supply-side resource and reducing the customer demand for gas.
The commissioners will hold their first community meeting in Greeley, Thursday, July 21st, at 11:30 AM at the Greeley Recreation Center. Later in the day, the Commissioners will conduct a Denver meeting at the Montebello Recreation Center starting at 5 PM.
PUC personnel will provide Spanish interpretation at both events, along with food and childcare for the Denver event.
The Colorado Public Utilities Commission website has more information about the Clean Heat Plan law and the commission’s other community meetings that are to be held in Grand Junction, Montrose, Pueblo, and Lamar.
Developer Releases Preliminary Plans For Denver’s Park Hill Golf Course
Westside Investment Partners Inc.- a real estate development group– released preliminary plans Thursday regarding the development of Denver’s Park Hill Golf Course, located at 35th Avenue and Colorado Boulevard.
The outline includes affordable housing, retail space, a grocery store, and a 100-acre land donation to Denver to create a city park.
Denver voters approved a ballot measure last fall that requires a citywide vote to develop the property with a conservation easement.
Westside bought the 155-acre former golf course in 2019 and has since faced opposition from advocates who want the parcel maintained as an open space.
Denver Channel 7 reported, that a grassroots coalition called Yes for Parks and Open Space has launched a website calling for the entire 155-acre parcel to be preserved as a public park.
Westside will conduct a public meeting on August 4th at the clubhouse to hear community feedback on the preliminary plans, with final plans likely going before the city’s voters in 2023.
Judge Orders Arrest Of Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters Over Bond Violation
A Mesa County Judge Signs an Arrest Warrant for Indicted Clerk Tina Peters.
On Thursday, Mesa County Judge Matthew David Barrett issued an arrest warrant for indicted county clerk Tina Peters who has been formally charged with election misconduct.
After reviewing video footage, Judge Barrets said Peters broke the terms of her bond agreement when she left the state to attend a conference in Las Vegas.
Judge Barrett pointed to video and photo evidence of Peter’s traveling to Las Vegas to speak at a Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association Conference on July 12.
While there she asked Secretary of State Jena Griswold to sign a recount of the June 28 Republican primary for secretary of state, which Peters lost. That letter was notarized in Nevada.
Judge Barrett wrote in his motion to arrest Peters, “The defendant was not permitted to go to Las Vegas, NV during this time for two reasons. First, the defense never asked to go during this time. Second, even the travel that was requested was not granted until the People’s objection was resolved, per the order on July 11, 2022.”
Republican Tina Peters was indicted by a grand jury in March, with allegations including attempting to influence a public servant and criminal impersonation stemming from a security breach she facilitated in the Mesa County elections office.
According to Colorado public radio, Barret has issued an arrest warrant for Peters and revoked her 25 thousand-dollar bond.
San Luis Valley District Attorney Resigns Amid Colorado Attorney General Investigation And Pending Recall Election / Polis Assigns Weiser As Interim District Attorney
The San Luis Valley District Attorney Alonzo Payne resigned from his office this week amid an investigation by the Colorado Department of Law that found Payne routinely failed to update victims of crimes on the status of cases, consult with them about plea deals or case dismissals, or treat them with respect and dignity as required by the Victims’ Rights Act.
Payne also faced a recall election as a group of San Luis Valley voters backed by the Alamosa City Council submitted enough signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State towards the end of May.
Payne, a Democrat who received an endorsement from Bernie Sanders, was halfway through his term for the 12th Judicial District, which covers the counties of Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande, and Saguache.
Payne resigned a day after Attorney General Phil Weiser announced an agreement between the 12th Judicial District and the attorney general’s office, requiring Payne’s office to retain an outside monitor, adopt new policies, and implement mandatory training.
Governor Jared Polis announced the appointment of Weiser as the interim district attorney on Wednesday.
Payne said in his resignation letter to the Governor he was resigning to spare the cost and divisiveness of a recall election to overturn the will of the voters.
In the letter, Payne also wrote that it was apparent to him that the elite of the San Luis Valley and judicial activists do not want to see criminal justice reform enacted.
Payne further wrote [quote], “I hope they soon realize that incarcerating the poor and underprivileged is not the solution to address the overarching poverty and substance abuse issues that are rampant in the San Luis Valley and statewide.”
Fire Crews Contain Half Acre Fire In Northwest Boulder County
Fire crews contained a small half-acre wildland fire in rugged terrain that started near Allenspark Thursday afternoon.
According to the United States Forest Service, the fire was near Miller Rock, south of Peak to Peak Highway and South St Vrain Drive in northwest Boulder County.
Ground crews and a helicopter contained the fire by early evening.