Back in November, Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally proposed changing of his agency after hearing a radio program that didn’t clearly differentiate between the Ohio EPA and the US EPA. He asked his employees for suggestions.

As we discussed back then, changing the name of the Ohio EPA faces some serious hurdles. For example, the name of the agency is written into state law and would require an act of the legislature to implement. More importantly, the cost associated with changing the name would be substantial.

A month after asking for suggestions, the agency released a list of new names proposed by employees. As the Dispatch reported, they “received nearly 100 suggestions.”

We also received this list, and he numbers are correct. But this is only half the story.

Not satisfied simply with the list of names, Plunderbund requested all of the emails sent by Ohio EPA employees in response to the name change suggestion, and what we found was an overwhelming consensus to keep the name the same.

While it’s true there were nearly 100 suggestions, the bulk of these suggestions came from a small set of the respondents, many of whom submitted 5 or more names each. One woman at the Division of Surface Water submitted 31 of the suggestions – nearly a third of the total responses. Another interesting fact: Some of the respondents suggested names for a new department made up of a merged ODNR and Ohio EPA providing some evidence that there have been discussions, at least internally, related to a merger of the two departments.

The majority of the respondents, however, suggested that the name remain the same.

Multiple people suggested that the similarity in names between the US EPA and the Ohio EPA is actually useful and important because it reflects the “close partnership and relationship” between the two agencies.

But cost was the most often cited reason for keeping the existing name. Emails often discussed the poor timing of the change given the current budget situation, many citing long lists of things impacted by the change like letterhead, business cards, signage, pamphlets, etc.

Some emails focused on the outward appearance of such a change, worried that Ohioans would view the expenditures as a waste of taxpayer dollars. Others expressed concern over “the internal feelings of staff” who are already overworked and short on help.

One email simply said “PLEASE DON’T CHANGE THE NAME” in the subject line with no text in the body of the email. Short and to the point. Another said “change just for change’s sake is just a waste of time.”

A number of respondents were much less reserved: “So we are going to go through the expense of changing the name of the agency because some half-wit news person can’t get the facts straight? Yet, we don’t have the money to fill vacant positions necessary to improve our effectiveness.”

And a 31 year retired OEPA employee summed up what seemed to be the general feeling of most of the respondents: “What a ridiculous idea… oh, this is a joke… right!”