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If there were any lingering doubts about just how destructive and dangerous the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would be, the oil spills we’ve seen in Arkansas, Texas, and Canada in recent weeks should lay them to rest.

It’s not just oil spills we have to worry about. The pipeline would threaten our air and water and would accelerate climate change, with communities of color hit first and worst. The pipeline would carry the world’s dirtiest oil—tar sands crude—to be refined in Port Arthur, Texas, a predominantly black and Latino community that already suffers from health problems due to oil refineries.

When it comes to climate change, the pipeline would be disastrous. The tar sands oil it’s designed to carry creates three times the global warming pollution as traditional oil. Mining tar sands crude wipes out forests, destroying the earth’s natural ability to clean the air. In terms of our oil addiction, tar sands is the hard stuff.

So why is the pipeline even on the table? The proposal is being driven by oil companies interested in expanding their own profits at any cost. But it’s also received some support from Americans with legitimate concerns. They want jobs—and the oil industry says the pipeline will create them.

But it turns out that these jobs numbers are grossly exaggerated. Proponents have claimed the pipeline will create “tens of thousands” of jobs. But an independent study by Cornell University found the project would create just 500-1400 temporary jobs. Among the jobs pipeline supporters are counting? Hairdressers, dancers, manicurists, and bartenders.

Others say the pipeline would help our economy. This argument also falls flat—it turns out the oil the pipeline would carry is destined to be shipped abroad; it would do nothing to help lower gas prices or increase our energy independence.

The claims about the benefits of the Keystone pipeline are fabrications. But the concerns about jobs, security, and economic vitality are real.

And there is a solution that would actually address these concerns—without putting our air, water, and health at risk. What we need today is to invest in America’s infrastructure.

Our basic water and transportation infrastructure is crumbling. It’s hard to imagine how America will stay competitive and support economic growth when we have rampant sewage overflows and broken roads and bridges.

Just take a look at our water infrastructure. We have a water crisis in America today—our outdated systems lead to 23,000-75,000 sewage overflows a year, and 3.5 million Americans get sick just from swimming in contaminated water. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that we need to invest at least $188.4 billion over the next five years just to make our water infrastructure safe and reliable. That translates into a lot of jobs: roughly 2 million. Compare that with just a handful of temporary jobs created by the Keystone pipeline. Investments in our water infrastructure would also generate an estimated $265.6 billion in economic activity.

These are the kind of proposals that will truly help keep America competitive and put people to work—while protecting our environment and our health.  

We can spur economic growth and create high-wage, local jobs. But allowing a foreign oil company to build a toxic pipeline across America is not the way to do it.

We need to invest in infrastructure that will truly create jobs and spur economic growth—not dirty oil pipelines that put our air and water at risk. The oil companies are sparing no expense in lobbying our decision makers. We need you to let the State Department know where you stand. Tell the State Department that the Keystone XL pipeline is not in our national interest.

Sample message language:
Dear State Department:
The Keystone XL pipeline would put our communities at risk, and would do nothing to help our economy. We need to invest in infrastructure that will truly create jobs and spur economic growth—not dirty oil pipelines that pollute our air and water and accelerate climate change. The pipeline is not in our national interest. Say NO to Keystone XL.  

Originally posted to Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 12:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Holy $h*tters, Climate Change SOS, Meatless Advocates Meetup, Climate Hawks, and DK GreenRoots.

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