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September 21, 2014
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Fox finds irony in his bust; committee bashes EPA report on fracking


WASHINGTON, DC — There are a couple of different videos circulating on the Internet showing the arrest of filmmaker Josh Fox. He took a camera crew to a hearing of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Environment on February 1. The hearing concerned a draft report, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), regarding hydraulic fracturing.

Fox was told he was not allowed to film and he was asked to turn off his camera. He refused and was arrested and led away from the room in handcuffs. As this was occurring he said, “This is a public hearing, I’m within my First Amendment rights, and I’m being taken out.” Andy Harris, the chairman of the subcommittee, later said that Fox was arrested because he lacked the necessary credentials to film the meeting.

Fox, who was nominated for an Oscar for his documentary Gasland and who is working on a sequel, noted some irony in the arrest. He told the Huffington Post, "Congressional staffers are actually coming in to watch what's going on and they start videotaping! That's why you have a videotape of me getting arrested—congressional staffers all had their iPhones out. And the only one being threatened with arrest is me."

It’s unclear if the staffers were required to have credentials; the subcommittee did not respond to an email requesting clarification. After the arrest, however, the subcommittee posted a press release on their website saying, “Personnel providing coverage by the television and radio media shall be currently accredited to the Radio and Television Correspondents' Galleries.

The individual removed was not accredited by the House Radio and TV Gallery and had refused to turn off his camera upon request by Capitol Police.”

Fox later told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now he wanted to film the meeting because “what was going on there was a clear and brazen attack on the EPA, and on the meticulous three-and-a-half year investigation that took place in the small town of Pavilion, WY to expose a link between fracking and groundwater contamination.”

In fact, the committee did criticize the report in a press release issued after the meeting. It said, “Witnesses highlighted a number of concerns with EPA’s December 8, 2011 draft findings, including the failure of the agency to adequately consult with state and federal experts, the release of conclusions prior to adequate peer review, lack of adherence to information quality guidelines, a lack of data transparency, and sampling and monitoring well issues that call into question many of the results.”

The press release also quoted Tom Doll, State Oil and Gas Supervisor at the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. “The EPA conclusion that hydraulic fracturing caused groundwater contamination is limited to the data found in a single sample from single monitoring well located on a natural gas field in central Wyoming. Yet this fact is lost in the public reaction to EPA’s announcement and results in a worldwide damnation of hydraulic fracturing.”

But this was also in the press release, “Jim Martin, regional administrator of EPA’s Region 8, described EPA’s preliminary findings as indicating that ‘groundwater in the aquifer contains compounds likely associated with gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing.’”

Fox’s arrest seemingly brought the hearing much more attention than it would have otherwise achieved: there are more than 400 reports from various news outlets available in the Internet. Fox told Huffington Post, “If it weren't for the campaign contributions going to the Republican Party on behalf of the oil and gas industry, I would not have been arrested.”

The assasination of Josh's character

The pen name poster Wythe would like to imply that Mr. Fox, since he was not a "credentialed" journalist, showed up at the hearing to film, simply to be arrested. Anyone who has seen "Gasland" knows that this is false, since he filmed several Congressional scenes, when he was far less known. Since that original filming, when the Democrats were in the majority (are they the party of free speech?), he was nominated for an Acadamy Award for best documentary. That is quite a credential, in most people's book!

In this case, it was the radical, over (re)action of a first term republican, Andy Harris, who caused Fox to be arrested. Indeed, Mr. Fox, and all the "fractivists" across the globe, should be thankful to the ungraceful action of the republican. But, what else would one expect from an ideological republican? I am shocked that he is a "doctor", as it is clear that high volume, shale gas extraction drilling and frac'ing is so dangerous to the locals who are exposed to this industrial activity.

This was, simply, yet another, stupid, ideologically driven decision, made by a frac'ing supporter, from of all locations, Maryland.

There was no reason to expel Mr. Fox, let alone to arrest him, and yes, we all thank the republican freshman for his stupidity. He has given Mr. Fox, much publicity, that he would not have received if he were allowe to film, as before.

Glad you agree!

I have to agree with one point you make also, it's shocking to whom they give a doctorate!

At least he could say thankyou!

Fox owes Andy Harris a big thankyou for the national publicity he garnered from his 'act of civil disobedience' as he put it. Since fox knew he needed credentials to film there, and C-span was already taping the hearing, and the complete webcast is still available to the public today here; http://science.edgeboss.net/wmedia/science/sst2012/020112.wvx
one can only assume Fox's motive was simply another in his long line of publicity stunts.
Fritz Mayer and the RR did give one of the more accurate and mostly spin-free reporting of the story, compared to some of the others I've read, kudos for that!
However, since you did quote Jim Martin I would add yet another statement from him at that hearing, he also said:
"We make clear that the causal link [of water contamination] to hydraulic fracturing has not been demonstrated conclusively, and that our analysis is limited to the particular geologic conditions in the Pavillion gas field and should not be assumed to apply to fracturing in other geologic settings."