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Published June 29, 2023
By Chavawn Kelley
The Salt Creek Energy Excellence Scholarship, named for the oldest producing oil and gas field in Wyoming, was established to encourage College of Law students who demonstrate a strong interest in energy and law. For Colton Edwards, the 2023-24 Salt Creek Scholar, that interest began with his childhood in Douglas, a community that lies within the state’s coal-rich Powder River Basin.
“People were proud to supply energy to the country,” he says.
His parents were employed in the industry, and he benefitted from energy’s support of youth sports and other organizations. Edwards says this background influenced his choice to pursue a degree from the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources (SER). At SER, Edwards studied energy resource management and development, with a concentration in professional land management. Now a third-year law student, he’s working to become an energy attorney.
Salt Creek Scholarship Committee member Joe Evers of Denver says, “This scholarship is unique in the number of donors who come together to promote energy scholarship, professional networking and employment in the industry.” Evers notes this year’s gifts to the Salt Creek Endowment made total awards the largest in the scholarship’s eight-year history.
In addition to Edwards—the Salt Creek Scholar—Iva Reckling of Cheyenne; James Harkin of Laramie; Scarlett Forrest of Herndon, Virginia, and Griffin Boehm of Wilmette, Illinois, received scholarships. The selection committee includes donors, alumni, faculty members from the UW College of Law and past Salt Creek Scholars. See all the Salt Creek Scholars HERE.
Edwards says he found his interest in energy law through SER coursework in science, business, and law:
“Science classes taught me the technical side of exploring for resources. Business classes taught me the financial considerations used in the development of projects. Law classes taught me how our legal system both encourages and discourages energy development and where that development occurs.”
Edwards added to his foundational understanding through internships in business development at Westmoreland Coal Company and as an independent landman helping Anadarko Petroleum manage lands in southern Wyoming.
As a land agent after graduation, his roles included acquiring permits and easements for electrical distribution lines and major water pipelines. During that time, he gained first-hand perspectives on taking energy projects from design to construction. Still, there was the pull of law school.
“While I enjoyed working as a land agent,” he says, “I also recognized when it was time to go back for a law degree, as my prior coursework motivated me to do.”
At the UW College of Law, Edwards has served as treasurer and as co-president of the Natural Resources Law Club. “I’ve been able to meet some great and knowledgeable people, including a former Wyoming governor, two former Assistant Attorneys General of the United States, and a former Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior.”
This summer Edwards is working in Holland & Hart’s Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Practice Group in Cheyenne. “I’m excited to apply my experience and knowledge to real-world issues,” he says.
After graduation in May 2024, Edwards plans to work in private practice, advising clients on energy and natural resources issues. “Energy markets are becoming more complex, and administrative policies are constantly shifting,” he says. “Climate change is a threat, but it also provides opportunities for the development and deployment of new and evolving technologies such as carbon capture, hydrogen, and renewable energy. I am excited about the prospect of working as an energy attorney during a time of change.”