In Canada, the government has proposed new regulations targeting both the controversial oil sands industry and coal-powered energy plants.
The regulations would require them to use carbon capture technology to help sequester emissions of greenhouse gases, starting in 2012. The requirements, expected to come into effect at the start of 2010, would effectively outlaw the introduction of new coal-fired plants that did not capture carbon.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., similar legislation was introduced in Congress. Representatives Edward Markey and Henry Waxman tabled a bill imposing a moratorium on new coal-powered plants that lacked the ability to control their carbon dioxide emissions.
Under the proposed legislation, the moratorium would remain in place until the federal Government imposed wider regulations to curb global warming pollution in the United States.
The move left representatives of the U.S. coal industry fuming. "The prospects of this bill going forward is about as good as the prospects of the economy moving forward if this legislation ever went ahead," argued Luke Popovitch, a spokesman for the National Mining Association.
He instead called for a national fund for the development of carbon capture and sequestration technology over the next 10 years. "It would do a great deal of harm to the U.S. economy if we were to stop growing the energy source that provides half of our electricity at a time when the demand for electricity is expected to grow by 50 per cent over the next 25 years," he argued.