In a stunning break with First Amendment policy, House Republicans directed Capitol Hill police to detain a highly regarded documentary crew that was attempting to film a Wednesday hearing on a controversial natural gas procurement practice. Initial reports from sources suggested that an ABC News camera was also prevented from taping the hearing; ABC has since denied that they sent a crew to the hearing.
Josh Fox, director of the Academy Award-nominated documentary "Gasland" was taken into custody by Capitol Hill police this morning, along with his crew, after Republicans objected to their presence, according to Democratic sources present at the hearing. The meeting of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment had been taking place in room 2318 of the Rayburn building.
After showing video of his arrest, Schultz asked Fox to describe what happened.
FOX: Well, I didn't expect to be arrested for documentary film making and journalism on Capitol Hill today. I was prepared for it, but I didn't expect it. I did think they would come to their senses and just let us film the public hearing. 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.
You can read more about the Pavillion case here and here.