(Emily Larsen, Liberty Headlines) Last week the developers of the Dakota Access Pipeline filed a racketeering lawsuit against Greenpeace and dozens of other environmental groups that protested the pipeline. The lawsuit alleges that Greenpeace and others incited violence by eco-terrorists.
Energy Transfer Partners says that suit says Greenpeace, BankTrak, EarthFirst and others engaged in racketeering, spread false claims about the pipeline’s impact on the environment and the Standing Rock Sioux tribe sacred sites, and encouraged protesters to inflict “hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.”
“[The protesters] deliberately and maliciously attempted to cut holes in the pipeline with torches which, if successful, would have resulted in significant environmental damage and possible loss of life,” said Energy Transfer Partners in a press release.
“In addition to its misinformation campaign, the [protesters] directly and indirectly funded eco-terrorists on the ground in North Dakota. . . [T]hen flagrantly manipulated these ‘made-for-TV’ events to raise more funds for the [groups involved with the protest],” it continued.
It is seeking at least $300 million in damages for the vandalism as well as punitive damages. Under the RICO act, those damages would be tripled. Such high legal damages would destroy Greenpeace, similar to when Gawker was forced to shut down after being hit with a $140 million legal fee after publishing a Hulk Hogan sex tape.
Environmental groups say the lawsuit is a deliberate attempt to silence them.
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“This suit is part of a rising tendency on the part of government and industry to demonize activists and to criminalize free speech activity,” Ted Hamilton, co-founder of the Climate Defense Project, told ThinkProgress. “Fossil fuel companies know that they’re losing public support for their poisonous activities — and so label their opponents ‘terrorists’ and seek gag orders in court.”
Greenpeace noted that an attorney at the law firm handling the case, Marc Kasowitz at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, was Donald Trump’s personal lawyer for many cases. Kasowitz represented Trump in financial cases for his Atlantic City developments and in the Trump University fraud lawsuit. In the last weeks of the campaign, Kasowitz also threated to sue the New York Times over a story in which two women accused Trump of sexual harassment.
“They are apparently trying to market themselves as corporate mercenaries willing to abuse the legal system to silence legitimate advocacy work,” a Greenpeace spokesperson told Gizmodo.
“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,” said Greenpeace.
The anti-Dakota Access Pipeline campouts and protests, which left more than 230 truckloads of debris at the protest campsite, inspired eco-terrorism against the DAPL pipeline and other pipelines.
Last month, two women were arrested for using oxyacetylene cutting torches to pierce through exposed 5/8” steel pipe along the construction site, and burning electrical units and heavy equipment at multiple valve sites using tires and gasoline-soaked rags. In February, a man in Florida was shot in killed by police after he shot at the Sabal Pipeline with a high-powered rifle.