Office of Legal Services

Legal Services

Our office provides general counsel to Ohio EPA’s divisions and districts and evaluates, prepares and negotiates administrative enforcement actions.

Agency attorneys prepare trade secret claim determinations; prepare and review contracts; assist in the development or review of legislation and rules; and address public records request issues.

 

Weekly Review and Public Notices

Each week, the Ohio EPA Weekly Review provides a county-by-county listing of public notices in alphabetical order by county. Most of Ohio EPA's public notices are contained in this listing.
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Rule-Making Procedure

The Ohio Revised Code (ORC) requires and authorizes Ohio EPA to adopt administrative rules. Rules are adopted pursuant to Chapter 119 and section 111.15 of the ORC, which become part of the Ohio Administrative Code (OAC). The Agency may also adopt internal management rules. read more...

Adjudication Proceedings

Ordinarily, "actions" of the Director of Environmental Protection (which include the adoption, amendment or rescission of rules, the issuance, modification or rescission of most orders, and the issuance, denial, modification or revocation of permits and licenses) are issued as "final actions" appealable to the Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC). However, in some instances Ohio EPA is required, or chooses, to provide the person subject to an action an opportunity for a prior hearing. These instances will most often involve the denial of an application for a permit or license. In these cases, the Director will issue a "proposed action" that may be adjudicated before Ohio EPA's Hearing Officer.

An adjudication hearing on a proposed action of the Director may be requested by the person subject to the proposed action, or by any person who would be aggrieved or adversely affected by issuance of the permit in question, by the filing of a hearing request or objection within 30 days of issuance of the proposed action. The hearing request or objection is filed with Ohio EPA's Hearing Clerk in the Legal Records Section. The Hearing Clerk dockets the request and refers it to the Hearing Officer.

The first step in an adjudication proceeding is the scheduling of a prehearing conference by the Hearing Officer. The first prehearing conference will be scheduled to be held approximately four to six weeks after receipt of the hearing request, and will be attended by all parties to the case or their counsel (Ohio EPA will be represented by an Assistant Attorney General from the Environmental Enforcement Section). The purpose of the prehearing conference is to focus the issues in dispute, explore the possibility of settlement of the controversy, and discuss preliminary schedules for discovery and hearing if settlement of the case appears unlikely.

Most adjudication cases before Ohio EPA, as with most cases in any tribunal, settle without going to formal litigation. As long as all parties agree that settlement negotiations are being actively and productively pursued, the Hearing Officer will encourage efforts to resolve cases informally. If a case cannot be resolved informally, or cannot be resolved after six months, the case will proceed to a formal adjudication hearing.

Following the adjudication hearing and post-hearing briefing, the Hearing Officer submits a Report and Recommendation to the Director. The parties have an opportunity to file objections to the Report and Recommendation, and then the Director issues final Findings and Orders. This final action is then appealable to ERAC.

Appeal Process for Final Agency Actions

Final actions of the Director of Environmental Protection are appealable to the Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC) pursuant to Section 3745.04 of the Ohio Revised Code. The ERAC is an independent commission whose three members are appointed by the Governor. The following is a brief summary of the appeals process. For more detailed information, please contact ERAC directly at (614) 466-8950.

Generally, final actions may be appealed to ERAC by a person who was a party to a proceeding before the Director by filing an appeal within 30 days of notice of the final action. However, a final action issuing, denying, modifying, revoking, or renewing a permit, license, or variance, which is not preceded by a proposed action, may be appealed by persons who are aggrieved or adversely affected by filing an appeal within 30 days of issuance of the action.

Appeals to ERAC must be in writing, and must set forth the action complained of and the grounds upon which the appeal is based. Appeals must be filed with:

Environmental Review Appeals Commission
30 East Broad St., 4th Floor
Columbus, Ohio 43215
(614) 466-8950

The appeal must be accompanied by a $70 filing fee. ERAC, in its discretion, may reduce the filing fee if by affidavit it is demonstrated that payment of the full amount of the fee would cause extreme hardship.

Notice of the fiilng of the appeal shall be filed with the director of Ohio EPA within three (3) days of filing with the Commission. Ohio EPA requests that a copy of the appeal be served upon the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Environmental Enforcement Section. The filing of an appeal does not automatically suspend or stay the action appealed.

If, after hearing the appeal, ERAC determines that the action appealed was lawful and reasonable, ERAC will affirm the Director's action. If ERAC determines that the action was either unlawful or unreasonable, the action will be vacated or modified.

Orders of ERAC are appealable by adversely affected  parties to the Franklin County Court of Appeals, or if the appeal arises from an alleged violation of a law or rule, to the Court of Appeals for the district in which the violation is alleged to have occurred.

Audit Disclosure Response Protocol

Ohio's audit privilege and immunity law is designed to enhance protection of human health and the environment by encouraging regulated entities to voluntarily discover, promptly disclose and expeditiously correct violations of environmental laws. Under the law, the owner or operator of a facility may perform a voluntary self-evaluation (audit) designed to improve compliance or identify, correct, or prevent noncompliance with environmental laws. In return for performing a proper audit, the owner or operator can qualify for immunity from the gravity portion of any civil penalty for the violations disclosed. read more...

Weekly Review and Public Notices

Each week, the Ohio EPA Weekly Review provides a county-by-county listing of public notices in alphabetical order by county. Most of Ohio EPA’s public notices are contained in this listing. Certain Ohio EPA public notices are too lengthy to be included in the county-by-county listing, or apply to more than one county. An example would be public notices of proposed rule-making. These multi-county or other public notices are posted by week.