No link between fracking and smallmouth bass decline

  • Marie Cusick

A fisherman along the banks of the Susquehanna River. Two senior state environmental officials say there is no link between gas drilling and problems with the river's smallmouth bass population.

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

A fisherman along the banks of the Susquehanna River. Two senior state environmental officials say there is no link between gas drilling and problems with the river's smallmouth bass population.


There is no link between Pennsylvania’s surge in gas drilling and the startling decline of the smallmouth bass population in the Susquehanna River, say two state environmental officials.
Speaking Tuesday on WITF’s Smart Talk John Quigley and John Arway, who lead the state Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission respectively, say the problems with the bass began before the Marcellus Shale boom. Although public fears about a correlation persist.
“There’s no evidence any of this is related to hydraulic fracturing,” Quigley said. “The real decline in the smallmouth bass population really occurred in the first year or so of unconventional shale gas development, and the wells weren’t even drilled in the Susquehanna River basin.”
“I agree,” said Arway. “We have no evidence to suggest that fracking is connected because of the timing of when the problems occurred.”
Last month DEP researchers released a study, which zeroed in on likely causes: endocrine-disrupting compounds and herbicides, as well as pathogens and parasites.
Endocrine-disrupting compounds and herbicides can come from many sources including industry, agricultural, municipal sewage treatment plants, as well as residential and commercial landscaping.
Arway has criticized DEP for not listing the main branch of the Susquehanna as officially “impaired”— which he says is simply an acknowledgment that the river has a problem. Quigley says the DEP is currently evaluating the impairment status.

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