Denver smog haze pollution brown cloud

Air pollution over Denver in an undated photo. 

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office is seeking an outside investigator to probe allegations brought forward by whistleblowers within the state Department of Public Health and Environment that the agency unlawfully issued pollution permits and falsified data to dodge air quality standards.

According to a request for proposals from the Department of Law seeking a third-party legal services firm, those allegations come from CDPHE employees Rosendo Majano, De Vondria Reynolds and Bradley Fink.

The trio in a March letter to the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General alleged CDPHE’s Air Pollution Control Division unlawfully issued air pollution permits. One of the whistleblowers said in the letter they were ordered to falsify data to ensure pollution estimates came in under the limits permitted in law.

The request posted Monday indicates Attorney General Phil Weiser is seeking “Special Assistant Attorneys General to conduct an independent investigation of allegations regarding alleged improper non-enforcement of National Ambient Air Quality Standards.”

In probing the allegations from Majano, Reynolds and Fink, the third-party investigator will examine the charges that “permits were unlawfully issued and that a CDPHE modeler was ordered to falsify data in a modeling report to ensure that no modeled violation would be reported.”

Proposals are due back to Weiser’s office by May 10. The firm that wins the contract will be required to provide a public report on its findings at the conclusion of the investigation.

CDPHE indicated Executive Director Jill Hunsaker Ryan requested the investigation with the governor’s office support.

"While we are confident that the division is acting in accordance with state and federal laws, we are committed to being responsive to the concerns raised and transparent in everything we do to serve the public and protect the public’s health and environment," the agency said in a statement. "We plan to respect the process and ongoing investigation."

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