Colorado

State Whistleblower Score

Score: 66/100 points

Rank: 13/51 states

Colorado has a reasonably strong state whistleblower law with moderately broad coverage (18 out of 33 possible points) with a high degree of usability (27 out of 33) and strong remedies (21 out of 33).

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State Public Records Law

Colorado Open Records Act

For provisions concerning the distribution of reports of agencies pursuant to the “Information Coordination Act”, see § 24-1-136; for provisions concerning access to records pursuant to federal law, see the “Freedom of Information Act”, 5 U.S.C. § 552. Colorado Revised Statutes (2017)»

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Exemptions to Disclosure

Public records do not include:

  • Work product. Work product means all intra-or inter-agency advisory or deliberative materials assembled for the benefit of elected officials, which materials express an opinion or are deliberative in nature and are communicated for the purpose of assisting such elected officials in reaching a decision within the scope of their authority. Such materials include, but are not limited to notes and memoranda that relate to or serve as background information for such decisions; preliminary drafts and discussion copies of documents that express a decision by an elected official.
  • An e-mail message must be for use in the performance of public functions or involve the receipt of public funds. A message sent in furtherance of a personal relationship does not fall within the definition. The fact that a public employee or public official sent or received a message while compensated by public funds or using publicly owned computer equipment is insufficient to make the message a “public record”. Denver Publ’g Co. v. Bd. of County Comm’rs, 121 P.3d 190 (Colo. 2005).
  • §24-72-204 states that the custodian may deny a person’s right to inspect records such as “the specific details of bona fide research projects being conducted by a state institution, including, without limitation, research projects undertaken by staff or service agencies of the general assembly or the office of the governor in connection with pending or anticipated legislation;” and
  • Trade secrets, privileged information, and confidential commercial data;
  • Records protected under the common law governmental or “deliberative process” privilege, if the material is so candid or personal that public disclosure is likely to stifle honest and frank discussion within the government;
  • Veterinary medical data, information, and records on individual animals that are owned by private individuals or business entities, but are in the custody of a veterinary medical practice or hospital, including the veterinary teaching hospital at Colorado state university, that provides veterinary medical care and treatment to animals;
  • Email addresses provided by a person to a state institution for future communications may be exempt if disclosure is contrary to “public interest”

Access Rights

  • All persons
  • Custodian can make rules re: inspection that are reasonably necessary for the protection of such records and the prevention of unnecessary interference with the regular discharge of the duties of the custodian or the custodian’s office
  • Reasonably prompt response to request for records (w/in 3 business days) – extenuating circumstances must be explained
  • In no event can extenuating circumstances apply to a request that relates to a single, specifically identified document.
  • Can request reasons for denial of access
  • Fees – § 24-72-205, amended by 2014 Colo. Legis. Serv. Ch. 142 (H.B. 14-1193) (WEST); can’t exceed $0.25 per page for copy of the record, or fee not to exceed actual cost of providing copy in whatever format it is provided
  • Possession by public entity doesn’t render record public
  • If records are not immediately accessible/available the “reasonable” amount of time for their delivery is 3 business days or less
  • Can’t exceed 7 business days
  • No fee for email transmission

Destruction of Public Records

  • 24-80-103 et seq states that record custodians must periodically consult with the department of personnel and the attorney general of the state to determine whether the records in question are of legal, administrative, or historical value. Those that do not can be destroyed, after a list of such documents is compiled, and the custodian, department of personnel and AG certify that this law has been complied with.
  • Custodian must consult with the department of personnel and they will determine whether the records are of legal, administrative, or historical value. Records that do not fall within one of those classifications will be disposed of according to the officer.
  • A list of all of the disposed records along with a statement certifying compliance signed by the officers must be filed and kept in the office that the records were taken from.

What’s New In Colorado?

Colorado News

Letter to EPA Region 8 – Next Steps on Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment – 11-11-2022 (PDF)

DESCRIPTION: Letter to EPA Region 8 Administrator KC Becker requesting meeting on Colorado Department of Public ...

Substantial PFAS Contamination Found in Pesticides in Colorado

Threat to Food Chain Justifies Colorado Ban of All Pesticides Containing PFAS

Colorado Balks at EPA Ozone Reducing Recommendations

State Resists Reforms Identified by Whistleblowers and Confirmed by EPA

EPA Validates Colorado Air Whistleblowers’ Charge

State Directed to Fix Illegal Permits and Cease Enabling Pollution Evasions

Op-Ed | An alarm is raised, little is done, and employees flee

Fed up with the state’s failure to regulate air permits, three state employees came forward about a year ago, but ...

COMMENTARY | Colorado PFAS Prevention Act Passes

On May 11, 2022, the Colorado Legislature tackled the PFAS contamination crisis by passing one of the most ...

Letter to EPA and Colorado DPHE- Review of Civil Rights Compliance – 05-09-2022 (PDF)

DESCRIPTION: PEER letter on state of Colorado’s air permitting program with regard to EPA’s nondiscrimination ...

Denver Superfund Site May Be Leaching Toxic PFAS

Groups Seek State Testing and Monitoring at Lowry Landfill Superfund Site

Illegal Colorado Air Pollution Permits Targeted

First Major Test for State’s New Environmental Justice Action Task Force

Op-Ed | Why KC Becker holds the key to Front Range air quality

Colorado has been badly out of compliance with National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for a decade now. ...

COMMENTARY | Opaque Decision-Making at The Colorado Air Pollution Control Division

Colorado Air Pollution Control Division has a convenient history of bad record keeping at a time when reporters, ...

Colorado May Have the Most PFAS Sites of Any State  

EPA Identifies Around 120,000 Potential PFAS Sites in U.S. – Far More Than Ever  

Colorado AG Probe Confirms Air Pollution Failures  

Pollution Permits Improperly Issued; Managers Took “Unjustified” Actions   

STATEMENT | Bureau of Land Management to Re-Open DC Headquarters

PEER applauds the Bureau of Land Management's decision to return its headquarters to Washington, DC.

Political Sabotage by Anti-Wolf Colorado Parks Manager

State Funds and Staff Used to Undermine Governor and Wolf Advocates 

Letter to Megan McCarthy – 06-11-2021 (PDF) 

DESCRIPTION: Letter to Megan McCarthy regarding the 2021 Annual Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) Report TO: Air Quality ...

Pawnee Coal Plant Causing Clean Air Act Violations 

State Fails to Control Coal Plant Emissions Endangering Public Health

Colorado Air Pollution – Gold and Fossil Fuel Mining

Several mines in Colorado received unlawful air permits that do not comply with air quality standards as a result ...

Colorado Air Pollution – Xcel Power Plants

Air permits for the Cherokee Power Plant and Pawnee Generating Station were both issued under faulty air modeling ...

Letter to EPA Acting Regional Administrator Deb Thomas – 06-07-2021 (PDF) 

Letter to the Acting Regional Administrator Deb Thomas regarding complaints within the Colorado Department of ...

Colorado Air Pollution – Interstate Expansions

$1.2 billion project started in August 2018, to widen I-70 from 6 lanes to 8 lanes near Commerce City, Colorado.

Colorado Air Pollution – Suncor

The allegations against the CDPHE implicate the air permit renewal for the Suncor Energy oil refinery in Commerce City.

COMMENTARY | What is Going On with Colorado Air Quality?

Colorado has been undermining its own air pollution experts for years in favor of easing requirements for polluters.

Federal Action Needed to Cut Colorado Air Pollution   

Illegal Cherokee Plant Emission Permit Worsens Environmental Justice Gap  

Letter to Michael Regan – Cherokee Power Plant, Colorado – 05-10-2021 (PDF) 

DESCRIPTION: Letter to Michael Regan regarding environmental justice issues around the Cherokee power plant in ...

Letter to Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser – Air Quality Standards – 05-07-2021 (PDF) 

DESCRIPTION: Request to Expand Scope of Investigation by Special Assistant Attorneys General into Non-Enforcement ...

Letter to the EPA Inspector General Requesting Review of Colorado Air Quality Non-Enforcement (PDF)

DESCRIPTION: Request for Review of Intentional Non-Enforcement of National Ambient Air Quality Standards by ...

Colorado Orders Staff to Ignore Air Pollution Violations  

Air Modelers Request Federal Intervention and Whistleblower Protection   

Letter to Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment – Air Quality Standards – 03/30/2021 (PDF)

DESCRIPTION: Letter to Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment to request that Colorado meet all ...

Letter to Inspector General O’Donnell – 03-30-2021 (PDF) 

DESCRIPTION: Letter to Inspector General O’Donnell regarding the violations of law, mismanagement, and abuse of ...

Letter to EPA IG – Colorado Air Quality Standards – 03/30/2021 (PDF)

DESCRIPTION: Request for Review of Intentional Non-Enforcement of National Ambient Air Quality Standards by ...

Call for Federal Intervention Into Colorado Air Pollution    

State Inaction on Coal Plant Emissions Endangering Public Health

PEER and 70 Conservation Organizations, Representing 16 Million Americans, Endorse Colorado Wolf Restoration

PEER and 70 conservation organizations have endorsed the concept of the restoration of the gray wolf to Colorado, ...

PEER Testifies Before Colorado Oil and Gas Commission

Kyla Bennett testified in front of the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission to require a robust analysis of the impacts ...

Allegations Against Climate Scientist Fall Apart  

University of Colorado Bureaucratic Infighting Disrupts Climate Research  

BLOG | University of Colorado Faculty Must Address Climate Science Censorship

The University of Colorado Boulder needs to ensure that special interests are not controlling climate change ...

PFAS in Colorado: Fact Sheet

PFAS are a man-made chemical that are used in the manufacture of consumer goods including cookware, ...

Questionable Termination Undermines Climate Science

University of Colorado-Boulder Serves Oil and Gas Special Interests

Letter to University of Colorado Regarding the Firing of Climate Scientist Dr. Helmig (PDF)

DESCRIPTION: Letter from PEER and 39 groups and 162 individuals requesting that the University of Colorado move ...

PEER Obtains Evidence of “Forever Chemicals” at Air Force Academy

Washing Your Hands Can’t Stop PFAS in Water

Colorado Lags in Controlling Forever Chemicals

Dangerous Levels of PFAS in Drinking Water Without Enforceable Limits

Interior’s Obtuse Reorganization Has Blurry Focus

New Layers of Regional Bureaucracy Larded on Top of Current Structure

I-70 Expansion Modeling Report (PDF)

Air Modeling for PM 2.5 & PM 10 for I-70 East Phase1 demonstrates that the project will violate NAAQS PM 2.5.

Industry Lawyers Directed Baca Wildlife Refuge Drilling Study

Concerns of Refuge Scientists Overridden by Interior, Justice Officials

Reclamation Jettisoning Environmental Functions

Lame Duck Reorganization Cutting Green Jobs to Promote Outsourcing

Fish & Wildlife Service Hiding Influence of Refuge Driller

Federal Court Asked to Force Government to Release Records

GROUPS CONTEST DENIAL OF FEDERAL PROTECTION TO DECLINING PRAIRIE DOG

Illegal Political Interference Cited in Lawsuit

SAN MIGUEL COUNTY JOINS COALITION SEEKING GUNNISON SAGE-GROUSE PROTECTION

TELLURIDE, COLO. – San Miguel County in Colorado has formally joined an effort to protect the Gunnison sage-grouse ...

PREDATOR CONTROL PLAN FOR COLORADO BLASTED

Danger to “Threatened” Wildlife Species, Children, and Non-Target Wildlife Washington, DC — The U.S. Department ...

SPECIAL INTERESTS TRUMP WILDLIFE AT DOW

Employee Survey Registers Rampant Fear of Reprisal; Staff Say Agency Is Headed in the Wrong Direction

COLORADO COMPANY TO BUY NJ RADIOACTIVE WASTE

Denver, CO-The Environmental Protection Agency must allow for public comment on a plan to transfer up to 470,000 ...

ATTEMPTS TO APPEAL WHISTLEBLOWER CASE WILL WASTE TAXPAYERS MONEY PEER

Requests Denver Wastewater District to End Defamation Campaign

ENVIRONMENTALISTS & BLM AGREE TO PROTECT LARGE AREAS OF ALGODONES DUNES

Peirsons Milkvetch, Colorado Desert Fringe-Toed Lizard, and Other Rare Desert Species to be Protected
Phone: 202-265-7337

962 Wayne Avenue, Suite 610
Silver Spring, MD 20910-4453

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