‘Gasland’ Director Steals the Spotlight from Pavillion, WY Debate

by Jackie Moreau on February 1, 2012

in Blog

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Today’s House  Science, Space, and Technology Committee on “Fractured Science” was overshadowed by an obvious publicity stunt.  This is a shame, because the media’s attention should have been focused on the substance of the hearing, which cast suspicion on the timing of EPA’s recent bombshell press release about aquifer contamination allegedly produced by hydraulic fracturing in Pavillion, Wyoming. I attended the hearing, and I will report on it tomorrow. Today’s post bemoans Fox’s agitprop tactics.

After settling into my seat, eager to hear testimony, I noticed a swarm of security guards surrounding a young man in baseball cap and thick-rimmed glasses attempting to set up film equipment.  It was Josh Fox, director of the fear mongering documentary “Gasland,” who was escorted in hand-cuffs out of the hearing squealing, “I’m being denied my First Amendment rights!”  Apparently, Fox is working on a sequel to “Gasland,” a debunked film predicated on the attempts to brand the entire natural gas industry with an infamous scene of a man lighting his tap water on fire.

Fox was precluded from filming the hearing because he did not have the necessary press credentials. Reportedly, an ABC news camera crew was also blocked from filming.  In the wake of Fox’s removal, ranking member Rep. Brad Miller of North Carolina requested a vote for Fox to film.  Ranking Member Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) recessed the hearing for nearly an hour because there was not a quorum.  As more Congressman filed in, the vote finally took place. On a 7-6 party-line vote, the majority denied the Ranking Member’s request.

The purpose of today’s hearing was to vet the science behind a controversial press release EPA issued in December, alleging that the deep water samples it had collected from Pavillion, Wyoming, “indicates that ground water in the aquifer contains compounds likely associated with gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing.” Already, serious questions have been raised about EPA’s results, and the Committee answered many concerns.

Unfortunately, EPA’s study took the back seat due to Fox’s dramatic PR stunt.  Fox seduced the media spotlight onto his own agenda, stealing the show from the implications regarding EPA’s sensational press release.  Like his bogus movie, this was an all too effective performance.

jim karlock February 2, 2012 at 7:11 am

“Fox was precluded from filming the hearing because he did not have the necessary press credentials.”

Since when does a citizen need permission to video an open meeting? Even slime like Fox.

Or is this some new definition of open government or freedom of information?


Robert Hoffman February 2, 2012 at 9:56 am

Interesting piece of writing, I’m interested in creative writing and this is a good example of spin. The story you write is very different from Amy Goodmans Radio Show coverage on Demoracy Now. She aired the testimony from residents of Pavilion who are now receiving trucked in drinking water, from rhe Canadian based Co. who owns the local wells in the area.
Foxs freedom to film a public meeting is just that, hence, be careful your freedom to print what you write may be in jeopardy if you’re not careful with your pros, good luck, because we all may need it…

William Yeatman February 2, 2012 at 11:54 am

Jim & Robert,

It is indeed less than ideal whenever the majority party applies procedural rules unevenly. Once, at a Senate EPW hearing, a majority party staffer told me to stop distributing press releases at the media table. After I ignored her, she got a policeman. The whole affair made me angry.

However, Jackie reports it straight. Indeed, she included details missing from most media accounts (in particular, the party line vote, 7-6, to bar Fox). The rightness or wrongness of Fox’s removal isn’t germane to the post. Her point is simply to bemoan how Fox again muddled the truth about fracking.

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