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The Latest: Changes afoot for oil and gas “trade secrets”


Energy companies have long enjoyed secrecy when it comes to the chemical makeup of the fluids they inject underground to release oil and gas. In the late 2000s, Western states like Wyoming and Colorado passed rules requiring some public disclosure, but broad exemptions for "trade secrets" remained common ("Frack forward," HCN, 10/1/10). As hydraulic fracturing spread and public backlash mounted, a few companies accepted the rules. But drilling giant Halliburton, national trade groups and others continued to resist full disclosure.

In March, Wyoming's Supreme Court ruled against Halliburton, saying that "trade secrets" should be defined very narrowly. And in April, industry supplier Baker Hughes split from the rest of the industry and announced plans to reveal 100 percent of its chemicals as a way to increase public trust and drive commercial innovation. Supporters liken the new policy to Coca-Cola listing its ingredients without divulging its secret formula.