Earlier this morning, “Gasland” filmmaker and anti-fracking advocate Josh Fox was ejected out of the Energy and Environment subcommittee meeting on fracking after he attempted to film it. Claiming the First Amendment gave him rights to record, Fox refused to leave, so he was handcuffed, led out, and later arrested. An ABC news crew was also prevented from filming as well. House Republicans directed the Capitol Hill police to arrest Fox, and to block the ABC team.
The Energy and Environment Subcommittee held a hearing on EPA‘s fracking study conducted in Pavilion, WY. A few months ago, the agency found benzene and other chemicals associated with fracking in resident’s drinking water. The main focus of the hearing was to verify the scientific integrity of the study.
Puzzlingly, Fox was charged with “unlawful entry” to a public hearing. (How is that even possible? We’ll await Republican explanation on how they’re interpreting the First Amendment here.)
As Fox was led out of the room, Democratic Representative, Brad Miller (D-NC), attempted to suspend the committee rules to let the crews film the hearing but was blocked by the Republican Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD). Normally, the committee chairman can give special permission to allow uncredentialed media members to film. They attempted to pass a motion that would either allow Fox and others to film or postpone the hearing until credentials could be obtained, both of which were voted down with Harris stating that the hearing could be viewed on the web.
Capitol Police public information officer Seargant Kimberly Schneider provided the following statement to HuffPost on the morning’s events:“At approximately 10:30 a.m. today, United States Capitol Police arrested Joshua Fox of Milanville, Pa. in room 2318 of the Rayburn House office building. He is charged with unlawful entry, and he is currently being processed at United States Capitol Police headquarters.”
Politico reports that Josh Fox said as he was being handcuffed and led away: “I’m within my First Amendment rights, and I’m being taken out.”
UPDATE: Watch video of Josh Fox being handcuffed and taken out of the hearing:
Photo of Josh Fox outside the hearing in handcuffs, courtesy of a Democratic Source: