WASHINGTON (AP) — An Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker was arrested at a House hearing Wednesday after trying to film the proceedings without the required media credentials.
Joshua Fox of Milanville, Pa., was led out of the room in handcuffs and charged by Capitol Police with unlawful entry.
He was released later by the Capitol Police with a misdemeanor citation for, in his words, “practicing journalism,” The New York Times reported. He said he did not have to pay a fine or post bail. A court date was set for Feb. 15.
Fox directed the anti-drilling documentary “Gasland,” which was nominated last year for an Oscar. Fox also is an activist who has spoken out against hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which was the subject of the House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee hearing.
Fracking takes place when large volumes of water, sand and chemicals are injected into wells to break up underground rock formations, allowing natural gas to escape.
The oil and gas industry has criticized Fox and his film for what they say is a sensationalized attack on fracking.
Democrats forced two votes, one to allow Fox to film the hearing and a second to recess the hearing for a week so that Fox could obtain credentials. Both motions were defeated on a party-line vote.
Committee Republicans issued a statement saying that committee rules state, “Personnel providing coverage by the television and radio media shall be currently accredited to the Radio and Television Correspondents’ Galleries.”
“The individual removed was not accredited by the House Radio and TV Gallery and had refused to turn off his camera upon request by Capitol Police,” the statement added.
The hearing was available for viewing on the committee’s Internet site, which is routine practice for most congressional committees.
A Democrat on the committee, Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, said Republicans were trying to hide criticism of the Environmental Protection Agency.
She said, “If Republicans want to undermine the use of science at EPA they can’t hide it from the American people because they have a right to know.”