Subcommittee Hearing on Fracking's Environmental Impact

On February 1, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Josh Fox was arrested after refusing requests from Republican committee members to leave a hearing on hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." The hearing focused on a recent EPA report that suggested that hydraulic fracturing methods of extracting natural gas most likely caused contamination of drinking water in Wyoming.

The filmmaker, a noted critic of hydraulic fracturing, was removed after Republican members of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee asked his camera crew to leave the hearing because they were not accredited. Fox refused to leave and was arrested for "unlawful entry." The hearing continued despite the excitement, with Republicans questioning the scientific rigor of the report and Democrats and EPA official Jim Martin defending it.

The process of hydraulic fracturing has been heavily criticized by environmental groups because of its potential to contaminate drinking water, while representatives of the natural gas industry have repeatedly claimed that it is safe.

MapLight has conducted an analysis of campaign contributions to members of the House Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment from interest groups representing Oil & Gas, Natural gas transmission & distribution, Major (multinational) oil & gas producers and  Independent oil & gas producers as well as Environmental policy and Alternative energy production & services.

  • Interest groups connected to natural gas industries have given a total of $199,808 to members of the subcommittee, with 90% of those contributions going to Republican subcommittee members.
  • Republican subcommittee members received 9.2 times as much ($180,308) from interest groups connected to the natural gas industry as did Democratic members ($19,500) of the subcommittee.
  • Interest groups representing environmental policy and alternative energy have given a total of $99,568 to members of the subcommittee, with 93% of those contributions going to Democratic subcommittee members.
  • Democratic subcommittee members received 14.3 times as much ($93,068) from environmental and alternative energy interest groups as did Republican members ($6,500) of the subcommittee.
  • Republican subcommittee members received 94% more from interest groups representing the natural gas industry than Democratic subcommittee members received from environmental and alternative energy interest groups.