House panel bars filmmaker from Wyo. pollution hearing
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)

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  1. GOOD. This is about science and not some sensationalist film maker. Clearly the people in this state do not understand that they pay no income tax and have jobs because of the energy industry. They cry “off with their heads!” without the slightest concern that cutting the heads off the energy industry results in a job a bust, ghost towns,etc. Seen that twice. Except in those cases it was the free market and not people who cheer condemning energy while benefitting hugely from that industry. So please feel free to try and gut the energy industry and try to put as many people out of work and sitting in the cold and dark. That’s so rational……..
    By the way, fracking has been going on in this state for over half a century. Suddenly, it’s all bad and to blame for everything??? Not likely.

  2. The energy industry and their “pet” legislators are terrified of public opinion, and thus votes, turning against fracking. Performed perfectly, fracking delivers new supplies of oil and gas safely. Performed imperfectly, fracking can poison groundwater for generations to come. Clearly, this is not a time for less regulation of the industry. Jobs tend to lose their luster when you can’t drink the water anymore.
    Wonder what would happen if industry started drilling and fracking under Aspen or Jackson Hole?