Capitol Police arrested Gasland director Josh Fox earlier today, as the filmmaker behind the Oscar-nominated documentary on the dangers of shale gas drilling—and “fracking” specifically—attempted to tape a public hearing on the technique that was being held by the House Science Committee. Fox is currently prepping a sequel to Gasland, and said in an interview following his release that he had attempted to get clearance to film the meeting, which focused on a recent EPA report regarding the contamination of a Wyoming aquifer from nearby hydraulic fracturing. After failing to get a response, Fox and a videographer showed up and started filming anyway, citing both his First Amendment rights and the fact that the hearing was already being broadcast on C-SPAN and the Internet for everyone to see anyway.
But the ranking Republican on the committee, Maryland Rep. Andy Harris—a noted fracking advocate—objected to Fox’s presence and made the rare motion to demand his removal, a measure typically only enacted regarding the media when there are concerns about overcrowding or disruption. This was answered by the objection of the ranking Democrat, North Carolina Rep. Brad Miller, who called for a vote allowing the presence of both Fox and an ABC News crew that had also been denied entry for not having secured proper credentials (and which was the only other crew that even showed up today). The Republicans easily won the vote, and Fox was handcuffed, escorted from the room, and issued a citation for unlawful entry. Committee members who had voted to remove him then celebrated that they’d succeeded in keeping their hearing from getting too much unwanted attention or coming off as oppressive and underhanded.
[Photo courtesy of EarthWorks]