Millions of birds are killed hitting overhead high voltage power lines in North America each year – about 174 million each year in the U.S., and up to 229.5 million per year in Canada. This type of environmental disaster can be seen in Alberta at AltaLink’s high voltage line near Big Lake in Lois Hole Centennial Provincial Park, AltaLink’s high voltage line near Pincher Creek, and at AltaLink’s high voltage line at Frank Lake, to name a few. Studies in the Netherlands and U.S. have reported 214 and 124 bird deaths, respectively, per kilometre of overhead power line per year. Based on these and other studies, and the high concentrations of birds along the recently built 500kV Heartland transmission line in Strathcona County, Alberta, Canada, RETA estimates over 14,000 birds will be killed annually by the above-ground Heartland line.
Electricity transmission companies that illegally kill migratory birds every year are not fined. For example in Canada, the Migratory Birds Convention Act prohibits the killing or destroying of migratory bird species. Why then are electricity transmission companies such as AltaLink, which are documented to kill migratory bird species, not charged and fined?
As well, overhead high voltage line EMFs significantly increase eggshell thinning and reduce egg size, egg laying and hatching success of birds.
For your reference, RETA has published a number of fact sheets on environmental issues:
- Natural Environment Along So-Called “Preferred” Route
- High Voltage Power Lines and Birds
- The Environment and High Voltage Power Lines
- Livestock, Pets and High Voltage Power Lines
There are also large populations of mammals that typically live along proposed routes for new overhead transmission lines. When the air is ripe with electrostatic and low frequency magnetic fields, and the irritating 24/7/365 buzz and hum, these animals will most probably disappear.
One of the most easily observable environmental impacts of overhead high voltage lines is the significant and permanent loss of wildlife habitat due to the very wide rights-of-way that must be bulldozed and kept clear forever of bush and tree vegetation. On the other hand, buried power lines require very narrow rights-of-way.
Overhead high voltage line EMFs have also been documented to decrease milk yield by 5%, fat corrected milk yield by 13.8%, and milk fat content by 16.4% in dairy cows.
Above-ground high voltage power lines are reported to cause breathing problems and weakened immune systems in cows and pigs; abnormally low pig birth rates and high piglet mortality; and undersize heifers.
Dogs and cats exposed to EMFs over a prolonged period have stillborn and deformed puppies and kittens, have abnormal “unbreedable” seasons, and show risks of lymph cancer 6.8 times the expected rate.
Overhead transmission lines frighten wildlife with ultra-violet flashes.
Exposure to overhead high voltage power line EMFs decreases plant growth and negatively affects agricultural crop yields and associated economic return.
Burying high voltage power lines eliminates all of the above-mentioned negative impacts.