Environment Politics Ohio EPA Director’s resignation mystifies public, raises questions By The New Political Posted on January 15, 2014 5 min read 2 0 873 Columbus politicians and their constituents across the state remain bewildered by the abrupt resignation last week of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Nally. Nally announced his resignation Tuesday, Jan. 7, in a letter that indicated he leaving his post to pursue “other opportunities.” Nally provided no clue of what these other opportunities might be, nor did he provide any other reasons behind his resignation. “As with life, the appointed position of director is not forever,” Nally wrote. “Knowing this drives us each day to do our best with the limited time we have. Furthermore, as we wind down it is imperative that we know when to step aside and pass the banner to the next leader to carry on the task. “It is with my head held high that I submit my resignation today, Jan. 7, 2014. I would like to personally thank the governor for the opportunity and my teammates for the pace in which we have executed our tasks.” Nally was appointed to his position in 2010 by Gov. John Kasich, who wanted to reconcile the agency with business interests. As EPA director, Nally spent most of his time working with the coal and gas industries. “Ohio has rolled out the red carpet for the fracking industry,” said Jack Shaner, deputy director of the Ohio Environmental Council. “I would say (Nally) did show some good leadership on things, such as pushing the agriculture industry to get serious about controlling farm runoff. But we did have a number of disagreements.” Chief among those disagreements was Nally’s decision last year to force George Elmaraghy, former head of the EPA division that oversees the protection of Ohio’s water, to resign. Elmaraghy, who admitted he felt pressured into resignation by Nally and Kasich, frequently clashed with the coal industry over water-pollution permits. Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said Nally’s resignation was unrelated to Elmaraghy’s, but this has done little to quench the speculation over whether Nally willingly resigned and why he did. “This is the number one mystery in Capitol Square,” Shaner said. “(Nally) seemed to be in absolute lockstep with the governor and his policies. The fact that he didn’t announce his resignation — there seems to be more to this than meets the eye. This is the fifth governor I’ve watched, and I’ve never seen a resignation like this.” Stepping into the role of the EPA’s interim director is Craig Butler, who previously served as Kasich’s senior director of energy and environmental policy. “For the past three years as senior policy advisor to the governor, I have enjoyed working to develop energy and environmental policies that promote the critical balance of protecting the environment and encouraging business development and job creation,” Butler said in an email. “I am very excited to rejoin the Ohio EPA team.” Shaner hopes the attention Nally’s resignation has placed on the EPA will lead to a heightened awareness of environmental issues.