* I originally wrote this for elephantjournal.com and wanted to share it with you here.
16 officers were sent to arrest Josh Fox while he was in the process of making a documentary film about the influence of oil and gas industry on the US government. He was attempting to film The House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment hearings on EPA’s water testing in Pavillion Wyoming.
According to Common Cause, Andy Harris—the congressman who called for Josh’s arrest—received $44,000 from the gas industry last year.
Around this time last year, the oil and gas industry tried to silence Josh’s documentary film GASLAND, which had been nominated for an Oscar. GASLAND exposed the facts about hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—which is a means of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well.
The truth that fracking contaminates groundwater is out, and no amount of intimidation tactics — either outright challenges to science or the arrest of journalists –will put the genie back in the bottle,” Fox said. “Such a brazen attempt to discredit and silence the EPA, the citizens of Pavillion and documentary filmmaking will ultimately fail and it is an affront to the health and integrity of Americans. ~Josh Fox
A statement from Josh after his release:
Finally home after an arduous but pretty darn amazing two days. I really didn’t expect to be arrested. I thought they would see that the 1st amendment should prevail. But I am glad that the bullying, shortsighted, lawless and corrupt behavior of the current congressional leadership and their relentless attacks on EPA and on the pursuit of truth has been exposed. They chose to attack science an…d journalism in one fell swoop, defending the oil and gas industry against the health of all Americans. I want to say thank you to everyone who voiced support over the last 48 hours. I especially want to thank Congressmen Brad Miller, Maurice Hinchey and Paul Tonka for coming to the defense of the freedom of the press. More to come. Thank you again. ~Josh Fox (from the GASLAND facebook page)
More about it from Current TV.
A glimpse of his trial (parody).
The full story, from Reuters:
“GasLand” director Josh Fox has been processed and released following his arrest at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Fox, who was charged with unlawful entry for trying to film a House Science Committee meeting on hydraulic fracturing — aka “fracking” — is due in court on the matter Feb. 15.
But just because Fox is a free man again, doesn’t mean he’s placated. Fox issued a scathing statement from Washington, D.C., on Wednesday following his release.
“I was arrested today for exercising my First Amendment rights to freedom of the press on Capitol Hill,” Fox said in the statement. “I was not expecting to be arrested for practicing journalism.”
Fox, who’s currently working on his sequel to the HBO documentary, characterized his refusal to stop filming the hearing as “an act of civil disobedience” and claimed the Constitutional high ground over the legislators that had shut him out.
“It is my understanding that public speech is allowed to be filmed. Congress should be no exception,” Fox asserted. “No one on Capitol Hill should regard themselves exempt from the Constitution. The First Amendment to the Constitution states explicitly ‘Congress shall make no law…that infringes on the Freedom of the Press.’ Which means that no subcommittee rule or regulation should prohibit a respectful journalist or citizen from recording a public hearing.”
Fox and an ABC news crew had attempted to film a hearing to explore the Environmental Protection Agency’s investigation into whether the gas and oil-extraction process of hydraulic processing had contaminated the water supply in Pavillion, Wyoming. Fox’s 2010, Oscar-nominated documentary “GasLand” covered the topic extensively, as will its sequel.
During Wednesday’s incident, Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) pleaded to allow Fox and ABC to film the hearing. However, according to Politico, Republicans on the committee tabled Miller’s motion.
Toward that end, Fox took a swipe at Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner in his statement.
“When I was led out of the hearing room in handcuffs, John Boehner’s pledge of transparency in congress was taken out with me,” Fox said.
Asserting that hydraulic fragmenting is an environmentally damaging practice, Fox predicted that lawmakers’ efforts to keep the hearing under wraps would ultimately prove futile.
“The truth that fracking contaminates groundwater is out, and no amount of intimidation tactics — either outright challenges to science or the arrest of journalists –will put the genie back in the bottle,” Fox said. “Such a brazen attempt to discredit and silence the EPA, the citizens of Pavillion and documentary filmmaking will ultimately fail and it is an affront to the health and integrity of Americans.”
Filed under: energy, environment, films, sustainability, video, water related issues Tagged: | blog, carbon footprint, clean energy, clean water, documentary, eco, environment, EPA, film, fracking, global warming, government, green, Josh Fox, natural gas, politics, sustainability, video, water