“An independent probe of Colorado’s air pollution permitting office has found clashing policies, internal confusion and a potential conflict of interest involving the office’s chief, but did not substantiate allegations of flagrant wrongdoing brought by three employees earlier this year.
While their complaint to EPA’s inspector general “raises some valid concerns,” “some are overstated,” investigators with a private law firm said in the report released Friday by the office of Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser (D).
Weiser had hired the firm, Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders LLP, at the request of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to examine the allegations raised in the March complaint. The report also blames EPA for failing to issue clear-cut guidance on one key issue, instead leaving that job to states.
But they faulted Garrison Kaufman, the division’s director, for working on the permit application for almost 2 ½ years after previously advising the mine’s owner, Newmont Corp., while in private law practice with firm Holland and Hart LLP. After returning to state employment in early 2017, Kaufman provided feedback and oversaw work on the application until August 2019, stopping only after Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a Maryland-based advocacy group representing the three employees, flagged his involvement, according to the report.”