Alberta wants Ottawa to help build a $1.5-billion pipeline that would put carbon dioxide emissions from the northern oilsands industry to work in oil wells hundreds of kilometres away.

Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Guy Boutilier is pushing Premier Ed Stelmach's plan to capture C02 and send it through a $1.5-billion, 400-kilometrepipeline that would allow it to beused to help get more oil out of low-producing wells.

Boutilier wants Ottawa to pony up with $500 million forthe pipeline, which would start in his riding in northeastern Alberta. Another $500 million each would come from the province and industry, he said.

"I do not believe for a moment that the prime minister of Canada would not accept the premier's invitation to join us on this important C02 initiative," he said.

"This initiative is real in getting C02 out of the atmosphere, which is certainly a threat to climate change."

Total greenhouse gas emissions in Alberta have increased by39.4 per cent, from 168.17 megatons in 1990 to 234.51 megatons in 2004, according to Environment Canada.

In the battle to contain climate change, pumping C02 back into old coal seams or natural gas reservoirs has become one of the hot topics among scientific and government planners.

'Not a silver bullet'

The willingness of Ottawa and the resource sector to help build the pipeline remains to be seen, but environmental groups are already weighing in on the idea.

"Carbon capture and storage is not a silver bullet," said Mary Griffiths, a senior policy analyst with the Pembina Institute.

"Capturing carbon dioxide and storing it underground may be a useful transition to help us get more rapid greenhouse gas reductions than would otherwise be possible, but we see it only as an interim measure."

Production and refining in Alberta's north demands enough natural gas to heat 3.2 million Canadian homes per day, as well as generating three times more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional light or medium crude oil, according to the institute.

Griffiths said she wants the Alberta government to focus more on renewable energy, which she believes can do more in the long term.