Up until now Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally has been known for 3 main things:

1. Being Kasich’s second unconstitutional cabinet appointee.

2. Participating in a press conference with Kasich to blame “a lack of commitment and a lack of vision” on the part of EPA employees for a 20 month delay in issuing a power plant permit.

2. Spending over $5,000 in taxpayer money (not including lost work time) to bus every Ohio EPA employee to Columbus so the Governor could berate them about talking to the press. (you may remember this event more for Kasich’s “idiot cop” comments)

Nally hasn’t exactly been racking up the wins at his agency, and judging by some of the conversations I’ve had in recent days, it doesn’t sound like he’s done much to improve his relationship with the agency’s employees.

His latest idea is only going to make matters worse.

Earlier this week Nally sent out an email to all Ohio EPA employees asking for help in coming up with a new name for the agency…

November 15, 2011 – Director Nally Seeks Suggestions for Agency Name

I was listening to the radio recently and the host of the show and his guest were discussing an environmental issue and the involvement of our agency. No distinction was made that it was Ohio EPA. Soon after the interview was over, a commercial aired which spoke about the problems an organization was having with the EPA – in this case the reference was to the federal EPA. Again, there was no real distinction between state and federal agencies.

Like all of you, it is easy for me to differentiate between Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA in these two instances. But for the average person, it can be confusing. It is becoming more commonplace to just use the term “EPA” interchangeably, making it increasingly more difficult to distinguish between Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA.

Ohio is one of only three states who use Environmental Protection Agency to describe the work we do and after almost 40 years, it is time to reevaluate our identity.

Therefore, I am asking for your help. Please think of how you would describe what we do here at the Agency and provide a suggestion for me to consider as a potential new name to replace the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. You can submit your ideas to namechange.email@epa.state.oh.us through November 30, 2011.

Director Nally

There’s one small problem with Nally’s plan: The name of the agency is actually written into state law (ORC 121.02), as is the title of the agency’s director. So unless Nally has been granted some magical legislative abilities by Governor Kasich, he doesn’t have the authority to change his agency’s name.

It also seems worth mentioning that the costs associated with the name change would be substantial. Everything like letterhead, signs, badges and vehicles would need to be changed. State employee records would all need to be updated. The entire OEPA website would need to be redesigned and rebranded. And a huge campaign would need to be undertaken to inform the state’s citizens, businesses and other organizations that deal with the Ohio EPA about the new name, email addresses, website, etc.

But the primary question we should be asking about this name-change plan is: why?

There’s a reason the Ohio Environment Protection Agency has had the same name for almost four decades: it matches nearly word-for-word to their mission.

To protect the environment and public health by ensuring compliance with environmental laws and demonstrating leadership in environmental stewardship.”

It seems pretty straightforward, really. The agency tasked with protection of the environment is called the environmental protection agency. It’s a fitting name, assuming there’s no plan to change the mission. But knowing Kasich and Nally, that’s exactly what they plan to do.

It’s important to remember that Nally, who came to Ohio via Indiana’s version of the EPA, spent many years as the regional environmental manager for Perdue Farms in Indiana. At Perdue he was responsible for getting his company’s highly polluting mega/factory farm operations approved by the State’s environmental agency before he went to work for the agency itself.

Given his background and the fact that he was appointed by Kasich, it seems possible that Nally’s vision for Ohio’s EPA is very different than the vision most EPA employees have. And it’s likely this vision, like that of Kasich, has more to do with helping businesses avoid and circumvent environmental laws and less about actually protecting Ohio’s environment.

It seems to me that the name change will likely coincide with a change of the agency’s mission under the direction of Kasich-appointee Nally, and the request for suggestions from EPA employees is nothing more than an attempt by Nally to decrease the blow-back from EPA employees regarding the upcoming mission change.

 

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