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Ohio EPA nominee wants to draw on experiences as DeWine's policy director in her new role

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Anne Vogel, Governor Mike DeWine's pick to be the next head of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, said she is honored to be nominated although it's still sinking in.

"It's a little surreal. I'm not quite used to it yet," she said. "I feel really privileged to continue working on the DeWine-Husted team. It's been a great four years, and I'm just excited to continue."

Vogel joined his administration in March of 2019 as a policy director. During her time, she has played a role in the development of environmental initiatives in the state including the H2Ohio initiative that launched in November of 2019.

"It was really an unprecedented effort across the state," said Vogel, who worked as the assistant policy director at the time, "and the governor really encouraged his agency directors to be very collaborative and thoughtful in how to spend the significant investment that the General Assembly was willing to put into water quality."

Vogel, who graduated with a law degree from Capital University and an MBA from The Ohio State University, said her passion for the environment was sparked by her first case as an attorney which concerned a piece of environmental litigation. That experience, paired with a love of the outdoors, created a "natural interest" in environmentalism that only grew after touring the Ohio and seeing how residents were impacted by environmental issues statewide.

"I didn't appreciate that there were parts of Ohio that didn't have safe drinking water and, you know, clean septic and safe wastewater treatment systems," she said. "And, you know, once you realize that and realize that you're in a position to do something about it, it's very exciting."

Vogel said she hopes to model practices DeWine implements in his administration, such as hiring people from various industries to help make "thoughtful, data-driven, fact-driven decisions," while also continuing to visit communities to understand how they are affected by state regulations.

"There's just no substitute for getting out and talking to the people who are affected by regulation, by federal regulation, by state regulation on one hand, but also by, you know, the funding opportunities that are available at the state and federal level," she said. "So, I'm excited to get out on the road and be very accessible and very transparent across all of the places the Ohio EPA touches in the state."

Vogel said she has not yet identified additional programming she'd like to implement if confirmed as director of the Ohio EPA, but that she plans to keep a close eye on funds that are available to the state through the federal Infrastructure and Investment Jobs and Inflation Reduction Acts.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Governor Mike DeWine said “Anne Vogel brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the helm of the Ohio EPA. Because she worked with me as Policy Director, Anne knows my priorities and will provide leadership to this important agency charged with protecting Ohio’s air, land, and water.”

If confirmed by the Ohio Senate, Vogel will replace current director Laurie Stevenson, who is set to retire at the end of the year.

Zaria Johnson is a reporter/producer at Ideastream Public Media covering the environment.