The owner of the Dakota Access oil pipeline sued environmental groups Tuesday, accusing them of fraud, racketeering, inciting terrorism and other charges stemming from their opposition to the project.
Energy Transfer Partners said in a statement that Greenpeace, BankTrack and Earth First “manufactured and disseminated materially false and misleading information about Energy Transfer and the Dakota Access Pipeline for the purpose of fraudulently inducing donations, interfering with pipeline construction activities and damaging Energy Transfer's critical business and financial relationships.”
The company further accused the groups of funding and inciting terrorism, defaming the company and violating state and federal anti-racketeering laws.
Energy Transfer’s attorney in the case is Michael Bowe of Kasowitz Benson Torres. The firm’s lead partner is Marc Kasowitz, who was President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden: Those who defy Jan. 6 subpoenas should be prosecuted Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Hackers are making big money MORE’s lead personal lawyer from May through July of this year, representing him in matters such as the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump's campaign.
The law firm also represents Resolute Forest Products in a racketeering lawsuit from last year against Greenpeace for allegedly defaming that company.
The Dakota Access lawsuit filed in federal court in North Dakota stems from an ongoing fight by numerous green groups and American Indian tribes against the oil pipeline, which they contend is harmful to water supplies, the climate and the rights of the tribes.
The most visible part of the campaign was a months-long encampment on federal land in North Dakota last year in which hundreds of protesters delayed construction of the pipeline while trying to get it stopped completely.
But Energy Transfer said the conspiracy went far beyond that, including deliberately false statements, funding terrorism and “using donations to fund a lucrative drug trafficking scheme inside the camps.”
Greenpeace called the allegations “spurious” and accused Energy Transfer of repackaging claims from the Resolute Forest Products case.
“This is the 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,” Tom Wetterer, Greenpeace’s general counsel, said in a statement.
“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,” he said.