Colo. Springs Utilities wants sanctions against advocate who seeks release of emissions report

The Gazette (Colorado Springs): Colorado Springs Utilities is seeking attorneys’ fees and sanctions against Monument attorney Leslie Weise as she continues her quest to get an emissions report released.

Weise wants the public to see a sulfur dioxide report by AECOM Technical Services Inc., contracted by Utilities in December 2013 to help with air-quality assessments.

An El Paso County district judge refused to release the report, so Weise took her case to the Colorado Court of Appeals, which inadvertently sent her the report last month.

She alerted the court to the mishap and returned the report without keeping any copies, as the court instructed.

But she told The Gazette that the report’s Exhibit D showed violations in levels of SO2 emissions from the coal-fired Martin Drake Power Plant.

Weise is asking the Court of Appeals to release that exhibit to serve the public welfare, saying it contained no attorney-client privilege – the reason Utilities cited for keeping it under wraps.

Instead, Utilities filed a motion seeking sanctions and attorneys’ fees.

Utilities would not comment on the ongoing court case, said spokeswoman Amy Trinidad.

Weise, however, expressed outrage at the response from Utilities.

“The City of Colorado Springs has now been caught knowingly concealing air quality violations from the public, and instead of responsibly releasing the data to their rightful owner – the residents who breathe this air – it reacts in contemptuous fashion by insisting that the Court of Appeals impose punitive sanctions on me,” Weise said Tuesday.

The report “belongs to the public, and it directly affects the public in a health-and-safety kind of way.”

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