Gasland Filmmaker Josh Fox Arrested At House Committee Hearing on Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking)
Yesterday, certain members of the GOP – particularly Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), who has been an advocate for fracking and has strong financial ties to the natural gas industry and Committee Chairman Ralph M. Hall (R-Texas) – prompted the arrest of the Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Josh Fox for daring to attempt to exercise his First Amendment right to film what has been a long process to actually get science back into the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
The committee was there to discuss the latest findings by the EPA about the water contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming as directly linked to the fracking in that area. This was the first time the EPA has linked any groundwater pollution to fracking and was a huge vindication for the environmental community and the residents of Pavillion.
That hard work may be in jeopardy because of industry lobbyists and political maneuverings. Yet a further slap in the face is to actively work to keep public eyes out of the process.
What Is Fracking?
Josh Fox has single-handedly brought fracturing to the forefront of mainstream America through his film, Gasland. You may have even heard about fracking in the recent State of the Union address.
Fracking is controversial natural gas drilling technique that pumps millions of gallons of water, sand, and a proprietary blend of methane, ethane, liquid condensate, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (courtesy of Halliburton) into the deep wells at high pressure. The pressure fractures the shale and allows natural gas to be extracted more easily.
While the Safe Drinking Act was put in place to prevent what is quickly becoming the biggest environmental and public health challenges in history, there was a loophole, often called the Halliburton Loophole, in the 2005 Energy Bill that exempts natural gas extraction and ensuring that communities all over the country are finding enough chemicals in their drinking water to be able to light it on fire.
This is the world that Fox has been working to prevent.
Statement From Josh Fox
Fox spoke about his arrest later that evening:
We were there covering a very crucial hearing about a case of groundwater contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming, a three and a half year investigation by the EPA where it shows subjects from the first film, Gasland, from Pavillion with groundwater contamination resulting in fifty times the level of benzine in groundwater.
And EPA has pointed in this case that hydraulic fracturing is the likely cause. And what was happening on the Hill today was Republicans have called, in the Science and Space and Technology Committee, a hearing to challenge science. Their panel was made up of gas industry lobbyists. And we were there to expose what I believe is actually a rather ugly and brazen attack on science itself, on what’s happening across the country with this hydraulic fracturing and water contamination.
So we were there actually doing our jobs as journalists. I was not interested in disrupting that hearing. I was not charged with disrupting that hearing. I was simply interested in capturing on film in a broadcast quality camera what the Republicans were going to be doing right there, putting the EPA and citizens of Pavillion and everyone across the nation who is complaining of contamination due to hydraulic fracturing on trial. We wanted to make sure people knew that that was happening.
What You Can Do – Take Action
Learn more about fracking and the problems we face because of it.
- Gasland the movie.
- Earthjustice – Fracking Gone Wrong: Finding a Better Way.
- Natural Resources Defense Council - Steps to Keep You and Your Family Safe from Drilling.
- Respond to Josh Fox’s arrest and a blatant disregard for the people and the First Amendment with calls to Rep. Andy Harris’s office: 202-225-0254 and Chairman Ralph Hall’s office: 202-225-6673.
- Tell President Obama and Congress to impose an immediate nationwide ban on all fracking now.