Posted on Apr 13, 2007 in Formal Opinions

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.

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