Opinion Letter No. 07-05
April 13, 2007
Energy Infrastructure Security
The Department of Business, Economic Development &
Tourism asked whether it was required to disclose sensitive information
reported to it by energy companies regarding the physical security
of Hawaii's critical energy infrastructure. OIP opined that where
an agency seeks to withhold information in the interest of public
security, the agency must show that public disclosure of the information
could reasonably be expected to cause damage to public security.
According to DBEDT, disclosure of information about
the physical security of critical energy infrastructure would compromise
the security of that infrastructure and expose it to hazards such
as vandalism, copper or equipment theft, or other criminal activity,
which would clearly be contrary to the interest of public security.
However, DBEDT must establish facts supporting that argument if
faced with a challenge to its nondisclosure of information in response
to a request. Assuming that DBEDT meets its burden to show that
disclosure of a particular piece of information would indeed compromise
the physical security of critical energy infrastructure, DBEDT can
withhold that information under the UIPA's exception for information
whose disclosure would frustrate a legitimate government function.