Dakota Access Pipeline Builders Sue Greenpeace, Others on Racketeering Charges

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By the time oil began flowing in the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), the pipeline’s owner, Energy Transfer Partners L.P. (NYSE: ETP) and its general partner, Energy Transfer Equity L.P. (NYSE: ETE), had lost upward of $500 million on delays to getting the pipeline into operation. On Tuesday, the companies filed suit in the U.S. District Court in North Dakota seeking unspecified compensatory damages for the losses.

Name in the suit were Greenpeace International, Greenpeace, Greenpeace Fund, BankTrack, Earth First! and other organizations and individuals. The plaintiffs allege that these groups and individuals, which they call “the Enterprise” in the filing, “manufactured and disseminated materially false and misleading information about the [DAPL] for the purpose of fraudulently inducing donations, interfering with pipeline construction activities and damaging Energy Transfer’s critical business and financial relationships.”

In the press release announcing the lawsuit, Energy Transfer charged that the “Enterprise is comprised of 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 lawsuit 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.”

In a report at Bloomberg News, Greenpeace said it had not yet received a copy of the lawsuit, but spokesman Travis Nichols said, “We will comment in more detail at the appropriate time, but rest assured we will fully defend ourselves against legal attacks on our existence.”

Energy Transfer is seeking compensatory damages in an amount to be proven at trial as well as treble and punitive damages. The companies’ law firm is Kasowitz, Benson & Torres. Marc Kasowitz was for a time President Trump’s chief private attorney.