Energy Transfer Voluntarily Narrows Complaint in Lawsuit Against Greenpeace Entities and Others
by Valentina Stackl
March 18, 2022
Morton County, North Dakota, March 18, 2022 - Late yesterday, Energy Transfer, the company behind the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), voluntarily narrowed the allegations of its 3-year-old lawsuit against the Greenpeace entities and others stemming from protests over the construction of the pipeline .
Specifically, Energy Transfer dismissed former Greenpeace USA employee Charles Brown, withdrew allegations relating to the Mariner East and Bayou Bridge pipelines, and withdrew allegations concerning statements about insufficient consultation with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, as well as statements about inadequate environmental review of DAPL. Energy Transfer continues to pursue other claims against the Greenpeace entities, including allegations challenging statements that are widely accepted and circulated in the media related to DAPL.
Deepa Padmanabha, Greenpeace USA Deputy General Counsel, said:
“Despite Energy Transfer’s voluntary dismissal of Charles Brown and withdrawal of certain allegations, the lawsuit continues as a tool to intimidate organizations and individuals that challenge its business practices. We are approaching five years of fighting various claims by Energy Transfer in which it attempts to erase the true story of the peaceful, Indigenous-led opposition to DAPL. Instead of trying to silence organizations and individuals that expressed genuine concerns about the pipeline, Energy Transfer should focus its attention and resources on addressing the environmental crimes for which it has been charged in Pennsylvania for pipeline drilling fluid spills and related issues.”
In 2016, an Indigenous-led campaign to stop DAPL was born out of the threat to health and safety the pipeline posed to communities. The Standing Rock protests grew into a movement of thousands who went to Standing Rock to have their voices heard and exercise their Constitutional right to free expression. In retaliation, Energy Transfer used its economic power to file lawsuits , including a North Dakota federal court lawsuit against Greenpeace entities and others, alleging that the vigorous criticisms and protests of DAPL violated civil federal RICO laws. The lawsuit contended that Greenpeace, Inc., Greenpeace International, Greenpeace Fund, Bank Track, and unincorporated association Earth First! conspired with dozens of non-party organizations to engage in unlawful actions to harm the plaintiffs. The complaint alleged seven counts, including counts for federal civil RICO, state civil RICO, defamation, tortious interference, and conspiracy. Energy Transfer alleged $300 million in damages, which under RICO’s provision allowing for treble damages, would have allowed the company to recover almost $1 billion if successful. In February 2019, the federal judge dismissed the RICO claim and declined to rule on the remaining claims. Unsatisfied with the ruling of the federal court, a week later Energy Transfer refiled the lawsuit in North Dakota state court making generally the same factual allegations. The North Dakota state court lawsuit continues, with a trial set for June 2023.
Contact: Valentina Stackl, Senior Communications Specialist, [email protected], (734) 276 6260
Greenpeace USA is part of a global network of independent campaigning organizations that use peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future. Greenpeace USA is committed to transforming the country’s unjust social, environmental, and economic systems from the ground up to address the climate crisis, advance racial justice, and build an economy that puts people first. Learn more at www.greenpeace.org/usa.