Thursday, July 31, 2008, 7/31/2008 11:47:00 AM

More Public-Private Trade Secret Disputes - This Time in Helena, Montana

By Todd
The authors of the WombleTradeSecrets (um, that's us) are starting to see more and more disputes of the type we are reporting on in this post - private companies providing information to public entities for some public/private contracting purpose AND THEN the press or consumer advocacy group or environmental group seeks access to that information via statute or law that permits access to the same.

That being noted, greatfallstribune.com is reporting that a Helena-based environmental group filed a motion in Cascade County District Court on Wednesday in an effort to stop the city of Great Falls from holding back documents related to the proposed Highwood Generating Station.

Montana Environmental Information Center won a lawsuit last month that forced the city to turn over hundreds of pages of papers detailing plans for the coal-fired power plant, in which the city has already invested millions of dollars.

The city made most documents available last week, but withheld at least three papers because the group with which the city is partnering in the coal plant deal said those papers contained trade secrets.

Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission said it might eventually hand over the remaining documents after their attorneys have had the chance to review them.

That's not good enough, said Ann Hedges, program director for MEIC.

"We want to see what's going on," she said. "The public has a right to see what decisions its government is making, where money is being spent."

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