Following The Race To Develop An Unlikely Climate Solution
“There will be coal mining in this area for a long time to come,” was a comfortable prediction made back in 1984.
Today’s reality? Coal production in Wyoming has been on the decline for more than a decade. Even so, state leaders are still betting big on it, pinning their hopes on an enticing technology called carbon capture. Leaders hope it will adapt the industry to a world concerned about climate change-causing emissions, while others call it false hope for coal-dependent communities.
In this series, we follow one of the state’s efforts to become a hub for the technology: the NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE competition. It pits five international startups against each other to see if this silver bullet is truly possible. You know, just scale up new technology to transform carbon dioxide from a coal plant into a commercial product, turn fossil fuels into a 21st century energy source, save a state’s economy, oh, and land a $7.5 million grand prize. EASY!
It’s a risk: carbon capture is underdeveloped, elusive, and not-yet-commercially-viable. Even its biggest proponents say it’s not ready. But Wyoming leaders aren’t deterred, hoping this competition can help jumpstart a Carbon Valley–the Silicon Valley of carbon capture tech–and future-proof the energy capital of America.
Subscribe now to discover how one state is reckoning with its future, why carbon capture is more controversial than you might think, and whether an underdog startup has what it takes to solve the puzzle.
The Podcast Team
Before Wyoming, Cooper reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He’s reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs.
Cooper has also received numerous awards including for coverage of the Blackjewel bankruptcy and a National Murrow for Best Use of Sound. He’s an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.
Erin Jones was an editor and producer for Carbon Valley. She was also the story editor for The Modern West podcast and was the host and senior producer of the award-winning podcast, HumaNature.
Erin earned her Bachelor of Arts from The University of Texas at Austin in geography, and her Master of Fine Arts from the University of Wyoming in creative writing and environment and natural resources. Her writing has won the Frank Nelson Doubleday Award, a Kimmel Harding Nelson residency, and publications in The Normal School and Western Confluence.
Erin grew up in Texas, Utah, and Georgia, but she’s mostly Texan. Her partner in crime is her Hurricane Harvey rescue lab mix, Frankie.
Noa was born in Virginia Beach, VA, and grew up with a love of storytelling. From hosting local open mic nights to participating in creative writing workshops at college, Noa believes in the power of stories to unsettle our perspectives and spark empathy. With strong interests in environmental studies and the history of the American West, she could not be more excited and grateful to work with Wyoming Public Media.
Anna is the digital media manager at Wyoming Public Media and a born and bred Wyomingite. She helps shape what you see on this website as well as social media outreach and branding.
In addition, she helps produce the station’s award-winning flagship podcast HumaNature, and PRX’s Project Catapult podcast The Modern West. When she’s not geeking out over sci-fi/sci-fantasy pop culture, or playing DnD, she enjoys being a cinephile, hiking, and going to concerts.
Logo by Casidy Mittelstadt
Photos of Dimensional Energy team and Cooper McKim, by Aaron Breetwor, Courtesy of Dimensional Energy
Carbon Valley is a production of Wyoming Public Media, Christina Kuzmych, General Manager
Produced with support from the Society of Environmental Journalists