Moral Low Ground


‘Gasland’ Director Josh Fox and Crew Arrested on Republicans’ Orders for Attempting to Film Public House Hearing on Fracking

An Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker and his crew were arrested on Republicans’ orders for attempting to film a public hearing on hydraulic fracturing at the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

According to the Huffington Post, Josh Fox, director of the acclaimed documentary Gasland, was arrested by Capitol Hill police this morning as he and his crew attempted to film a meeting of the House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment. It was a public hearing on hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” a highly dangerous and polluting natural gas extraction process in which tons of highly pressurized water and toxic chemicals are injected into the earth to break free trapped gas. Fracking destroys wildlife habitats and pollutes groundwater. It infamously caused the tap water in some homes in the vicinity of the practice to combust when touched by fire.

The arrests were ordered by Republican lawmakers in a shocking break with First Amendment policy regarding press coverage of Congress. Although Fox did not possess formal Capitol Hill credentials, the Huffington Post claims that “such formalities are rarely enforced against high-profile journalists.” If Republicans objected to the presence of the film crew on procedural grounds, they could have told the crew to proceed to the front desk for easily-obtainable temporary passes. It is almost unheard of for a documentary film crew to be denied access to public meetings of elected officials.

The Huffington Post also reports that a credentialed ABC News crew was also denied access to the public hearing, a clear violation of the constitutional guarantee of press freedom.

It is unclear whether or not Fox and his crew will face charges.

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