Academy award-nominated director of “Gasland” arrested–but it was a good thing

Protest arrests net one Academy Award-nominated director, lots of pancakes

Sometimes you’ll see a film star or music star making a political statement or a speech about his or her pet project, and you can’t help but think along these lines: after this, that very famous and very rich person is going to go back home to the big mansion, or out to a restaurant where a meal costs more than one of my paychecks, and they are going to forget all about this.

Whatever it was that moved them so passionately, whatever compelled them to speak out, it was all just a part of the acting thing, they didn’t mean it any more than they meant it when they played a Nazi or a prostitute or a hobo in their last film.

Such are the risks of making a living in an industry built on make-believe. There is always a risk that people won’t love you when you’re telling the truth.

It’s a bit of a “boy who cried wolf” situation.

That’s why it’s so refreshing to see a Hollywood Person who puts their money where their mouth is, as is the case with Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Josh Fox, director of the documentary “Gasland.”

He was arrested with several activists from the group Beyond Extreme Energy while protesting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for continuing to issue permits for fossil fuel projects that are set to greatly accelerate climate change.

Specifically, the March 24 protest was to highlight the way FERC has used eminent domain to condemn and then immediately clearcut a broad swath of maple trees through the Holleran family maple syrup farm in New Milford, Pennsylvania. The clearcut was ordered to make a path for a pipeline that is intended to carry fracked gas.

To make it even worse, the family has had to endure this destruction to their legacy before the pipeline was even approved by New York state.

Fox and the other protesters were participating in what has been dubbed the “Pancakes Not Pipelines” protest, organized by activist group Beyond Extreme Energy. Fox personally took the FERC to task for what he termed their “reckless and dangerous behavior” which allowed the Holleran family maple sugar farm to be seized and destroyed by eminent domain.

“Everyone I know is fighting a pipeline or a compressor station or a power plant that is in front of FERC for approval, Fox said. “It is clear to me that FERC has to be the most destructive agency in the United States right now. They are faceless, nameless, unelected and ignore citizen input. I think of FERC as the Phantom Menace.”

Fox went on to point out that, although the Obama Administration is pivoting away from coal plants, the destruction sown by opening up so much land to fracking is actually leading to a net increase in US greenhouse gas production, not a decrease.

Fox kicked off the protest by cooking pancakes with a solar-powered cooker to illustrate the abundance and untapped usefulness of sunlight. They were then served with the Holleran family’s maple syrup, a bittersweet illustration of all that has been lost in our national obsession with fossil fuels.

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