Not one to back away from a fight, Energy Transfer Partners is going on the offensive against Greenpeace over the environmental group’s campaign against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The oil pipeline project was the subject of a massive protest, as environmental groups and the Standing Rock Sioux tribe said the pipeline threatened local water supplies. Energy Transfer Partners is now suing Greenpeace.

According to a press release by Energy Transfer Partners, the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota, alleges that Greenpeace “manufactured and disseminated materially false and misleading information about Energy Transfer and the Dakota Access Pipeline ("DAPL") for the purpose of fraudulently inducing donations, interfering with pipeline construction activities and damaging Energy Transfer's critical business and financial relationships. The Complaint also alleges that the Enterprise incited, funded, and facilitated crimes and acts of terrorism to further these objectives. It further alleges claims that these actions violated federal and state racketeering statutes, defamation, and constituted defamation and tortious interference under North Dakota law.”

Oil began flowing through the 1,170-mile pipeline earlier this year. The pipeline can carry 450,000 barrels per day of crude oil from the Bakken Shale in western North Dakota to a terminus in Patoka, Illinois, to reach Midwestern refineries and join other pipeline networks for delivery to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The lawsuit refers to Greenpeace and other environmental groups as “The Enterprise,” which comprises “rogue environmental groups and militant individuals who employ a pattern of criminal activity and a campaign of misinformation for purposes of increasing donations and advancing their political or business agendas.”

The environmental groups allegedly “targeted Energy Transfer's critical business relationships, including the financing sources for DAPL and Energy Transfer's other infrastructure projects, by publicly demanding these financial institutions sever ties with Energy Transfer or face crippling boycotts and other illegal attacks,” Energy Transfer said in its press release. The lawsuit “asserts that the attacks were calculated and thoroughly irresponsible, causing enormous harm to people and property along the pipeline's route. Dakota Access was a legally permitted project that underwent nearly three years of rigorous environmental review and for this reason, Energy Transfer believes it has an obligation to its shareholders, partners, stakeholders and all those negatively impacted by the violence and destruction intentionally incited by the defendants to file this lawsuit.”

In response, Greenpeace USA General Counsel Tom Wetterer said in a press statement that the lawsuit marks “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.”

The New York-based law firm of Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP was founded in 1993. According to Wikipedia, notable clients of the law firm have included now-President Donald Trump, actor Robert DeNiro, Celanese and others.

Watterer continued: “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.”

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