Locals both disturbed by and hopeful about EPA freeze and blackout

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WDTV)- The president's freeze on the Environmental Protection Agency's contracts and the media blackout has some of you hopeful and some very disturbed. Some people, like one local farmer, think pressing "pause" on the EPA is something that should have happened long ago. On the other hand, environmental researchers who rely on information and grants from the EPA can't do their work to help communities.

But for farmer Mike Morris, it means easier work... Or at least it could if things go how he wants and the EPA butts out a bit.

"It's hurting the people around, it's hurting jobs," said Morris, who is the Region 5 director for the West Virginia Farm Bureau. "The conservation effort, most farmers for the most part are very, very, very conscious of conservation. But just some things that the EPA come with in their rules is just absolutely ridiculous."

He's all about protecting the environment, but thinks some of the EPA's regulations don't make sense. He claims they make things harder for him and it costs people's jobs.

"They've overstepped their bounds," he continued. "And by that I mean that they've done some good things, they've cleaned some stuff up, but at the same point in time some of the regulations is actually ridiculous."

But jobs are also what the other side to this argument says are at stake.

"It could bring new types of development or job creation to a stand still," said Evan Hansen, an environmental researcher and president of Downstream Strategies.

Hansen relies on EPA research for some of the environmental research he works on. He says a lot of other agencies do too and none of these workers can do what they need to do when there's no money nor information going out.

"If it stays this way people are gonna be out of a job," Hansen said. "There's a lot of jobs that are gonna be killed if the EPA grants and contracts are not continued. And on top of that it's a problem to make sure we have clean air to breathe and clean water to drink."

Hansen fears what this means for science and our state. He says our government policies need to be based off of the science.