Dakota Access Pipeline Owner Sues Greenpeace, Alleges It Engaged in Organized Crime During #NoDAPL Campaign

By Kenrya Rankin Aug 23, 2017

Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, might have won the war against Native American activists seeking to halt construction on the oil pipeline, but it seems the company is still eager to fight.

The Washington Post reports that company officials filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota yesterday (August 22), alleging that environmental group Greenpeace International broke a federal organized crime statute during the #NoDAPL campaign.

Energy Transfer Equity LP v. Greenpeace International alleges that Greenpeace International—plus its subsidiaries, and green group Earth First!, NGO support organization BankTrack and 20 unnamed activists—are “a network of putative not-for-profits and rogue eco-terrorist groups who employ patterns of criminal activity and campaigns of misinformation to target legitimate companies and industries with fabricated environmental claims and other purported misconduct, inflicting billions of dollars in damage.”

The Dallas-based company levels charges that the groups are in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which is typically used to prosecute crime syndicates, like the Mafia. It also alleges that Earth First! and Red Warrior Camp violated the U.S. Patriot Act when members attempted to sabotage the pipeline, which ETP likens to “serious terrorist threats.”

Logging company Resolute Forest Products filed a similar suit against Greenpeace last year. Both suits were filed by Kasowitz, Benson & Torres LLP, which was founded by President Donald Trump’s attorney, Marc Kasowitz.

Greenpeace issued the following statement in response to the lawsuit:

This is the second consecutive year Donald Trump’s go-to attorneys at the Kasowitz law firm have filed a meritless lawsuit against Greenpeace. They are apparently trying to market themselves as corporate mercenaries willing to abuse the legal system to silence legitimate advocacy work. This complaint repackages spurious allegations and legal claims made against Greenpeace by the Kasowitz firm on behalf of Resolute Forest Products in a lawsuit filed in May 2016. It is yet another classic Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP), not designed to seek justice, but to silence free speech through expensive, time-consuming litigation. This has now become a pattern of harassment by corporate bullies, with Trump’s attorneys leading the way.

ETP seeks compensatory, punitive and exemplary damages, as well as an injunction to prevent the defendants from waging campaigns against their projects.

Per LastRealIndians.com, Linda Black Elk—a coordinator with the Medic Healer Council for the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock—thinks the suit could have broad implications:

The racist overtones of this lawsuit are nauseating and have potentially catastrophic impacts to the future of Native American tribal sovereignty. […]

ETP claims their damages include financial harm from divestment, increased costs and harm to reputation. Their suit makes these amazing environmental organizations look like slick, White, profiteers, who have worked us poor, ignorant, Indians into a frenzy over “groundless claims” concerning harm to the environment and sacred sites. Consequently, they allege that the water protector movement at Cannonball was nothing more than a green group fundraising scheme, and not a sincere, tribal environmental movement. They are saying that we, as this nation’s original people, don’t have the intelligence or self-determination to care about our lands, water, plants, wildlife or sacred sites. […]

This is all part of a larger strategy on behalf of Energy Transfer to completely discredit Native peoples in general and delegitimize water protectors specifically. It could also intimidate these big green groups from partnering with grass roots people in environmental campaigns.