The Faces of Carbon Valley: Kipp A. Coddington

Kipp Coddington, senior advisor at the University of Wyoming – School of Energy Resources, serves as the co-principal investigator for the Wyoming CarbonSAFE project in Gillette. The Wyoming CarbonSAFE project investigates the feasibility of practical, secure, permanent and geologic storage of carbon dioxide emissions from coal-based electricity generation facilities. Read more about how Coddington’s role at the CarbonSAFE project helps resolve policy, economic, and regulatory issues.

Q: What is your role and area of focus?

Coddington: As a non-practicing energy and environmental lawyer at the School of Energy Resources, I have the privilege of supporting the applied research conducted by SER’s many technical experts, from geologies to geophysicists. Much of our work is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy via competitive grants. Those grants, in turn, generally require some amount of policy, economic, community outreach, social license and related analyses. I play a role in those analyses. For the Wyoming CarbonSAFE project in Gillette, I’m a co-Principal Investigator on those topics.

Q: Can you give details on your organization’s work in coal-to-product research or carbon capture reuse? How does your work benefit the Carbon Valley region in Campbell County and Gillette?

Coddington: SER does a significant amount of work on applied research to support Wyoming’s coal industry. That coal industry, of course, is of vital importance to the nation, the State of Wyoming, Campbell County and the City of Gillette. That applied research covers technologies such as carbon capture & storage (CCS); carbon capture, utilization & storage (CCUS); coal-to-product processes; and extracting critical minerals/rare earth elements from coal and coal byproducts.

Many of those research areas raise interesting policy, economic and regulatory issues. For example, what is involved in acquiring pore space that is necessary for CCS? Can rare earth elements can be recovered under a federal coal lease? Does the utilization of coal byproducts trigger the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Coal Combustion Residuals Rule? I play a role in endeavoring to answer those and other questions for the benefit of Campbell County and Gillette.

Q: How do you believe the work coming out of the Carbon Valley will benefit the nation as a whole?

Coddington: Campbell County is the Energy Capital of the nation. The nation’s economy depends upon the fuels that are produced in that part of Wyoming. The Carbon Valley initiative reflects savvy, forward-looking political and economic leadership by Campbell County, Gillette and others by preparing for the future of energy markets. Campbell County is proactively preparing for the future, instead of waiting for it to arrive. I can’t say enough good things about Energy Capital Economic Development, the Wyoming Integrated Test Center, my fellow Wyoming CarbonSAFE team members and others in the region who are leading all of this.

Q: Where do you see the Carbon Valley 10 years from now?

Coddington: In 10 years, Carbon Valley will fully be established as a regional CCS/CCUS hub, for starters. Coal will most likely still be in decline, and we will continue researching alternative ways to use the resources available in Wyoming. The process will have progressed, and many companies will have utilized research done by the Wyoming Integrated Test Center, Wyoming Innovation Center and Wyoming CarbonSAFE teams to scale up their processes, whether that be in production or safe ways to store emissions. I also envision new industries will convert coal to non-British thermal unit products and extract critical minerals from coal, which will bring the productions currently in China over to the U.S.

Q: What do you do during your free time?

Coddington: I’m fortunate to be able to spend time with my loving spouse (Linda) and two great kids, both of whom love to come to Wyoming. Linda and I spend a lot of time renovating old homes and puttering around the house doing projects. I enjoy reading (non-fiction) and fly-fishing. I used to do some blacksmithing until I encountered some technical difficulties with my coal-fired forge. I miss making four-sided colonial nails. If you know of anybody that is trying to unload an old smithy, let me know as I’m in the market for a forge, anvil and post vise.

Q: What is your favorite part about living and working in Wyoming, and Gillette/Campbell County specifically?

Coddington: I live in Laramie down in Albany County but always love coming to Gillette. I love everything about Wyoming – the people, the climate, all of it. I don’t miss my prior high-cost-of-living existence. I don’t miss shopping malls or traffic. My one regret is not moving to Wyoming sooner than I did.