The Montana Petroleum Association (MPA) testified in support of a bill recently to require full disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Last legislative session, MPA opposed a bill requiring full disclosure on the grounds that Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC) could not adequately protect trade secrets if the bill became law. Montana’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act protects proprietary information and requires penalties for the misappropriation of trade secrets.
Rules promulgated by the BOGC in 2011 require operators to disclose additives used in hydraulic fracturing fluid, except for trade secrets. Senate Bill 299 carried by former Board of Oil and Gas administrator, Senator Tom Richmond of Billings, requires complete disclosure of all chemical additives to the BOGC.
Modeled after the Wyoming disclosure rule, SB 299 requires that companies provide substantive proof for any trade secret ingredient they believe should be withheld from public disclosure. Based on the justification provided by operators and/or service companies in accordance with requirements in the bill, the BOGC will determine whether or not to withhold confidential information from the public.
“This bill addresses the public’s right to know while protecting information about materials that confer a competitive advantage to oil and gas service companies,” said Alan Olson, executive director of MPA. “Today, trade secrets are usually the most environmentally beneficial and economic ingredients, making them incredibly valuable.”
Montana has a strong environmental record on hydraulic fracturing, with no demonstrated cases of groundwater contamination. Oil and gas operators first began fracture stimulation of wells in Montana over sixty years ago.
The Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) was the only opponent of the bill, heard in Senate Energy and Telecommunications. MEIC petitioned the BOGC for rulemaking on comprehensive frac fluid disclosure last year, and has since filed a lawsuit against the Board.
SB 299 will require that information submitted to the BOGC, save proven trade secrets, be made publicly available online.

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