In 2010, Josh Fox released a documentary called GasLand, about the effects of a method of natural gas drilling technique called fracking, which involves forcing millions of gallons of chemically-treated water underground to shatter rock and release trapped natural gas. Critics say it can contaminate drinking water, while proponents say it’s totally boss and the clean electricity it generates helps them shred on the keytar. Gasland profiled people who lived in places where the drilling had been done, who suffered adverse effects to their health and could do wonderfully cinematic things like light their tapwater on fire.
Yesterday, Fox was arrested while trying to film a congressional hearing by the House Science Committee on fracking, for a sequel to his documentary for HBO, Gasland: Bigger and Gassier. (Note: not actual title)
Fox was led out in handcuffs by the Capitol police shortly after 10 a.m., before the hearing could be gaveled into order. The “Gasland” director was attempting to film the hearing looking into EPA’s investigation of potential water contamination from natural gas drilling in Pavillion, Wyo.
“I’m within my First Amendment rights, and I’m being taken out,” Fox shouted as he was led away.
Fox has been charged with unlawful entry, according to Capitol police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider.
An ABC news crew was also turned away from the hearing. The committee chairman has the discretion on whether to allow uncredentialed members of the media to film hearings, according to a democratic staffer.
The committee recessed after Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) called a motion to suspend the committee rules and allow for Fox and the ABC crew to film the hearing.
“… it’s clear we have space in this room to film this hearing,” Miller said. “If you claim that rule does not allow them to film, or allows you the discretion to turn them away, I move the rules be suspended so the fella who wanted to film for HBO be allowed to film this hearing and that ABC be allowed to film this hearing and all God’s children be allowed to film this hearing until the room is too full for us to conduct our business.”
Before Miller’s motion, subcommittee chairman Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) noted that the hearing is being webcast and that anyone filming the hearing would need the appropriate press credentials.
The hearing resumed nearly 30 minutes later, after Republicans voted to table both Miller’s motion to allow the filming and a second motion to recess the hearing. [Politico]
These hearings would be a lot more exciting if in order to table someone’s motion, you had to bodyslam him through a table like in wrestling. Then only the chairman could intervene, with a folding chair.