Mom battles power plant over pollution records

9NEWS at 9 p.m. 03/17/16.

COLORADO SPRINGS - A mother, who is also an attorney, is taking on the Martin Drake Power Plant in a battle over pollution records.

Leslie Weise filed suit against Colorado Springs Utilities, which is city owned, because it is not releasing a study about how much sulfur dioxide is being released from the coal power plant.

Sulfur dioxide is a toxic gas that can prompt asthma attacks and other breathing problems.

“There are about 40 different schools within a five mile radius of this plant,” Weise said.  “That concerns me as a mother, as a lawyer and as a citizen who breathes the air from this plant.”

Weise said the utility had the study conducted by a third party after the Environmental Protection Agency re-evaluated how it was enforcing sulfur dioxide standards.

A city attorney would not disclose the results of the study claiming they are “privileged,” Weise said.

A spokesperson for the utility who would not get into the specifics of the public records battle.

“Because Ms. Weiss, an out-of-town attorney, elected to pursue litigation, we are unable to comment on this matter at this time,” Amy Trinidad said in a written statement.

Trinidad added in her statement the plant is installing technology at the plant to significantly reduce its sulfur dioxide emissions.

9Wants to Know profiled Weise’s case as part of Sunshine Week, when journalists and other open-government advocates call for more transparency of public records.

“In Colorado your only recourse, really, when you’re denied, is to go to court. And that’s a very intimidating thing,” said Jeff Roberts of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition. “You’ll have to put up resources to do that. And then you’ll find yourself up against government attorneys.”

To learn more about sunshine week and how you can fight to open up records, you can connect to sunshineweek.org and coloradofoic.org.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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