Reprinted with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. Not for republication by Wyoming media.
The House Science subcommittee hearing on water contamination in Pavillion, Wyo., took an unusual turn (Wednesday) morning when filmmaker and drilling opponent Josh Fox was handcuffed and led away by Capitol Police.
Fox, whose “Gasland” documentary on HBO was nominated for an Academy Award, is working on a sequel.
Fox entered the hearing room in the Rayburn House Office Building this morning. A videographer was blocked from entering, but Fox tried nonetheless to set up equipment. Before the hearing could start, he was handcuffed and led out by uniformed officers, yelling in protest.
“This is a public hearing!” Fox shouted. “I’m being denied my First Amendment rights!”
Rep. Brad Miller of North Carolina, the top Democrat on the Energy and Environment Subcommittee protested, requesting a vote on whether Fox should be allowed to film. He said another camera crew, from ABC News, had also been turned away.
Maryland Republican Andy Harris, the subcommittee chairman, said Fox was blocked from filming because he is not an accredited member of the Capitol Hill press corps.
When Miller pressed for the vote on Fox, Harris recessed the hearing because there was not a quorum. Harris and Miller were nearly the only members in the room.
A short time later, with more members in tow from both parties, they resumed the hearing. Harris and Republicans prevailed, 7-6.
Wyoming officials have dismissed EPA’s finding that hydraulic fracturing by natural gas drilling companies contaminated the aquifer under Pavillion, as has EnCana Corp., the area’s primary driller. Both have also disparaged the federal agency’s methods and criticized it for not releasing information.
Republicans in charge of the hearing made clear that they share those sentiments, calling the hearing “Fractured Science.”
But the residents of the central Wyoming community are jumping to the defense of U.S. EPA, an agency that has found itself under constant attack from the Republican House.
EPA’s study found that the contaminants found in the aquifer through drilling deep monitoring wells have not migrated upward into drinking water wells.
(Banner photo by Linh Do/Flickr)