Regulatory Ombudsman

Ohio EPA’s mission is to protect the environment and public health by ensuring compliance with environmental laws and demonstrating leadership in environmental stewardship. To accomplish that goal, it is important that we consistently regulate Ohio’s environmental laws.

As ombudsman, Laurie Stevenson acts as a problem-solving liaison between the Agency and those affected by its rules and processes. For questions or concerns, please contact Laurie by email or phone at (614) 644-2782. 

What is an ombudsman?

An ombudsman acts in a neutral way to help resolve disputes. The ombudsman evaluates all sides of an issue in an objective manner and can help identify options and strategies for resolution.

The ombudsman does not impose solutions and cannot make or reverse legal decisions to resolve a conflict. The ombudsman serves as a contact for issues such as:

  • complaints about service;

  • what you think may be unfair or inconsistent treatment;

  • access to resources and services; and/or

  • ideas for making services better.

What can the ombudsman do for me?

The ombudsman will not automatically take your side in a conflict, but will consider all sides of a question in an objective way. In some cases, the ombudsman can provide the information you need to solve the problem yourself. In other cases, the ombudsman will evaluate your complaint and act as neutral mediator in helping to find a solution.

Are there problems the ombudsman can't handle?

The ombudsman can only handle complaints having to do with your interaction with Ohio EPA. The ombudsman cannot take up conflicts you have with private individuals, companies or organizations; federal, county or local governments; elected officials; the legislature or U.S. EPA.

The ombudsman does not have the power to change rules, regulations, policies or legal procedures. The ombudsman cannot assist you in resolving matters that are part of an ongoing enforcement action. If the ombudsman is unable to take up your case, you will be told why.

When should I go to the ombudsman?

If you have a problem, first discuss it with the person or office involved. Many times they can further explain a regulation or policy and can correct the problem at that level. In fact, in many cases personnel in the appropriate division or office can solve problems more quickly and easily than by the ombudsman. The ombudsman is a last resort -- someone who will try to help when other approaches have failed. 

This Web site is designed to help you identify the quickest and most effective route within the Agency to resolve your problem and, if appropriate, guide you in requesting the services of the ombudsman to help resolve your concerns. The following simple steps should help you get on the right path to resolving your concerns.

STEP 1 - Identify your problem.

If you are having difficulty locating general resources or information from Ohio EPA, visit the Answer Place to see if this helps you.

STEP 2 - Talk to the Right Person.

To help you identify the best person to speak to when trying to resolve various problems, we have developed a chart showing some common situations we encounter along with the appropriate first point of contact. Try to resolve the issue directly with the points of contact provided.

STEP 3 - When You’ve Reached an Impasse.

If you have followed the first two steps, but still have not been able to resolve your concern, it’s time to contact the ombudsman.

Gather information about your situation that you want to convey to the ombudsman. Be ready to describe what your specific situation is, including what division, district or office you’ve been working with and what type of resolution you are seeking. Know you specific Ohio EPA contact's name and have copies of any related correspondence that you'd like to share with the ombudsman.

Fill out the ombudsman’s request for assistance form. After receiving your request, we will contact you directly to discuss the next steps.

Additional Resources

Rule Review and Processing

Ohio EPA’s rules coordinator provides oversight of Agency rule review and processing and acts as the primary Agency contact with the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. If you have any questions regarding Ohio EPA’s rule-making process, please feel free to contact Mandi by email or phone at (614) 644-2782. For more information about Ohio’s rules and regulations or to sign up to receive notification of rule changes, please visit our main Rules page.

Permitting Assistance

Ohio EPA’s mission is to protect the environment. However, we also recognize the challenges we face as a state in attracting and retaining businesses to maintain a strong economy for Ohio. To help meet both of these goals we strive for timely permit application reviews that meet business timeframes whenever possible, while continuing our main mission of protecting the environment.

Ohio EPA is looking for ways to continuously improve accessibility, flexibility, responsiveness and problem solving involved in our daily activities. As a result, we’ve made several changes to improve the efficiency of our permitting process and are currently reviewing our business practices for other areas of improvement.

Ohio EPA has developed a permitting assistance Web site to help organize and identify information that can help businesses navigate through the environmental permitting process. If after reviewing this information you still need help, please feel free to contact us by e-mail or phone at 1-800-329-7518.

In addition, Ohio EPA’s Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP) can provide your small businesses with resources and tools to help you understand and meet compliance responsibilities. We can also help you get and complete your permit application forms.

Public Involvement and Citizen Complaints

Ohio EPA knows we cannot achieve our mission and vision without input from Ohio citizens. The Agency places a high priority on public involvement and encourages citizens to become involved in our decision-making processes.

The Agency’s public involvement efforts, coordinated through our Public Interest Center, are designed to enable Ohioans to be a part of environmental decisions that affect their lives. The Agency offers public hearings, informational meetings, media briefings, advisory board meetings, round table discussions and various publications to educate the public about environmental issues. Each area of the state is served by a public involvement coordinator. To find the coordinator for your area, click here.