Colorado Air Pollution – Gold and Fossil Fuel Mining

Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mine

Photo: James St. John | Flickr

Newmont Mining Corporation’s Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mine is the last remaining gold mine in Colorado. Leadership at CDPHE ordered whistleblowing air modelers to falsify emissions data from Cripple Creek & Victor Gold Mine, as modeling would show that the mine could not comply with National Ambient Air Quality Standards for NO2. The former Director of the Air Pollution Control Division at CDPHE Garry Kaufman—who previously represented Newmont in litigation—also repeatedly signed off on exemptions for the gold mine, allowing the company to violate applicable air quality standards. On May 7, 2021, the CDPHE Air Division whistleblowers filed a request that the state Attorney General’s office expand their investigation of the department to account for the data falsification and subsequent approval of substandard pollution monitoring for the mine. 

While the Cripple Creek & Victor permit is the most egregious example of mine permitting wrongdoing, other mines have been awarded permits from CDPHE despite modeled violations of National Ambient Air Quality Standards. These include the ColoWyo Coal Mine in Moffat and Rio Blanco Counties and Bighorn Pad in Jackson County. Air modeling for each of these facilities shows expected violations of NO2 emissionsFurther, several conservation groups filed a lawsuit in December 2019 against Arch Coal for failing to reduce methane and volatile organic compound emissions to Clean Air Act-compliant levels at its West Elk mine in Gunnison County.