The report outlines six recommendations for APCD regulators, including an overhaul of the agency’s minor source permitting procedures and amending existing permits of some pollution sources identified in the complaint. The EPA is asking the state to provide a written response to the report by Oct. 21.
“It is gratifying to see the new EPA send a clear message of reform to the state,” said Chandra Rosenthal, Rocky Mountain director for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which filed the whistleblower complaint on behalf of the APCD employees. “EPA agreed with the whistleblowers that the Clean Air Act requires pollution prevention while the CDPHE persists with its unsustainable strategy of merely monitoring pollution rather than preventing it.”
In a 2021 Newsline investigation into the APCD, whistleblowers and former employees described an agency plagued by low morale, insufficient funding and a “culture of fear” in which staff were pressured to issue permits at all costs, especially amid the explosive growth of Colorado’s oil and gas industry throughout the 2010s.