To the editor: The letter opposing the Keystone XL pipeline caught my attention. I hate to rain on the writer's wishful-thinking parade about whether "this oil needs to stay in the ground," but that is not an option. ("Leave Canadian tar sands oil in the ground," Readers React, Aug. 13)

The oil will be pumped and eventually refined and burned, whether environmentalists like it or not. The question is, will it be piped to a U.S. refinery and sold here or abroad, or will it be piped to the west coast of Canada and shipped to China or India to be refined, sold and then burned?

Some environmentalists may well be able to afford expensive solar or wind-generated energy. But poorer countries that wish to become First World economies need cheap power for their budding industries. They aren't worried about a global-warming disaster that might come about in several decades.

So, which do you prefer? A potential Pacific Ocean disaster from leaking Chinese tankers, or U.S. jobs on a state-of-the-art pipeline and in U.S. refineries?

Al Kholos, Winnetka