Trade Secret Confidentiality Requests
Entities requesting permits from the DEQ are required to provide detailed descriptions of the activities or processes involved so that DEQ may evaluate compliance with standards to protect public health and the natural resources of the State. These descriptions often include information that is considered ‘trade secrets’ or proprietary by the entity. The DEQ must balance the obligation to keep confidential any trade secrets or proprietary information disclosed during the permitting process with the obligation to comply with the Wyoming Public Records Act (W.S. 16-4-203(d)) and Wyoming Environmental Quality Act (W.S. 35-11-1101(a)).
The following checklist has been developed for submitting requests to keep documents containing ‘trade secrets’ confidential. The checklist summarizes the trade secret confidentiality issue in the State of Wyoming, and refers to three documents that provide guidance for such requests:
- A seminal August 29, 2011 letter from DEQ Director John Corra to a member of industry describing the components of a trade secret confidentiality request and the extent to which the DEQ will be able to keep this information confidential. These concepts are reiterated and refined in the checklist.
- An excerpt from the Wyoming Supreme Court’s March, 2014, decision in Powder River Basin Res. Council v. Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Comm’n., 320 P.3d 222 (Wyo. 2014), adopting the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) definition of “trade secrets.”
- 40 C.F.R. § 2.208 lists additional criteria that must be met in order for information to be considered a “trade secret.”