Josh Fox, director of the documentary Gasland, was arrested and ejected from a Congressional hearing on fracking today after Republican Congress members objected to his filming the proceedings. Fox and his crew did not have press credentials, though he had requested permission to film prior to the hearing. Fox was released in the afternoon without having to pay a fine or post bail; his hearing is scheduled for 15 February. Fox told the New York Times, “We have followed this case for three years, and it seemed as if this hearing was an attack on the E.P.A. and we wanted to be there. We wanted this to be transparent to the American people. This is emblematic of what is happening across the world.”
The hearing had been called to investigate an EPA report about the possible effects of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on the well water near Pavilion, Wyoming. The hearing’s briefing paper described the report’s principal conclusion: “that ground water in the aquifer contains compounds likely associated with gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing”. Opponents of the report’s conclusions have questioned the EPA’s survey methods and transparency, leading to today’s meeting.
In a statement on the website Truthout, Fox stated, “This was an act of civil disobedience — yes done in an impromptu fashion — but at the moment when they told me to turn off the cameras, I could not. I know my rights and I felt it was imperative to exercise them.” He continued, “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 is working on a sequel to Gasland.
At the hearing, EPA Region 8 Administrator James Martin defended the agency’s report, noting that their extensive sampling “indicates detection of benzene, methane, and synthetic chemicals, like glycols and alcohols consistent with gas production and hydraulic fracturing fluids.” These chemicals are known carcinogens.
2010′s Gasland was nominated for an Oscar and won a special jury prize for best US Documentary Feature. It describes fracking and its political and human health effects, and is credited with drawing increased public attention to the practice. Here is the film’s trailer:
Image: Still of Josh Fox from trailer of Gasland, via YouTube