Dakota Access Pipeline owner sues Greenpeace, arguing it broke organized crime law

  • America Indians and their supporters protest outside of the White House, Friday, March 10, 2017, in Washington, to rally against the construction of the disputed Dakota Access oil pipeline. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) Jose Luis Magana

Washington Post
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, which drew international attention for potentially endangering the water supply of Native American tribes in the Dakotas, accused Greenpeace and other environmental activists who helped organize protests of eco-terrorism, racketeering and other crimes.

By filing a lawsuit against the activists in U.S. District Court in North Dakota on Tuesday, the Dallas-based oil and gas company, Energy Transfer Partners, became the second firm to accuse Greenpeace of breaking a federal organized crime law used to try members of the Mafia, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO Act.

Last year, a Canadian logging company, Resolute Forest Products, filed a RICO suit against Greenpeace after the environmental group mounted a multimedia campaign against the company for harvesting trees in Canada’s sensitive boral forests. As part of that campaign, Greenpeace branded Resolute a “forest destroyer.”

In their respective lawsuits, Energy Transfer Partners and Resolute are being represented by Kasowitz, Benson & Torres, a law firm founded by Marc Kasowitz, President Donald Trump’s longtime attorney who was sidelined recently in the Russia investigations.

Greenpeace defended its activism, accusing the law firm’s lawyers of being “corporate mercenaries willing to abuse the legal system to silence legitimate advocacy work,” according Tom Wetterer, general counsel for Greenpeace USA.

The lawsuit was filed against both Greenpeace’s U.S. chapter and the international umbrella organization, Greenpeace International.

“This is the second consecutive year Donald Trump’s go-to attorneys at the Kasowitz law firm have filed a meritless lawsuit against Greenpeace,” Wetterer said in a statement.

He added that the complaint “repackages spurious allegations made against Greenpeace by the Kasowitz firm on behalf of Resolute.”

Rodrigo Estrada, a Greenpeace USA spokesman, said the group has not “been served papers yet.”

President Trump injected new life into the oil infrastructure project through an executive order four days after taking office. A month earlier, the Army Corps of Engineers under President Barack Obama shut down construction of the pipeline near the border between North and South Dakota, to consider alternative routes. But Trump’s revival put the pipeline on track.