In a remarkable development around the contentious Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), the developer of the project, Energy Transfer Equity and Energy Transfer Partners, sued the environmental groups that opposed DAPL. Energy Transfer sued Greenpeace International, Greenpeace Inc., Greenpeace Fund, Inc., BankTrack, and Earth First! alleging that the:
group of co-conspirators (the “Enterprise”) 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.
This is a notable development, both in the DAPL approval process and in the nationwide stand-off between energy developers and environmental advocacy groups. It may be the case that the battles will continue to escalate between energy developers and environmental groups as the environmental community likely sees no effective policy advocacy options and instead seeks public relations and litigated solutions; while developers frustrated by lengthy and expensive permitting and regulatory processes become increasingly frustrated by what they see as bad faith obstructionist tactics.
The complaint filed in the United States District Court for the District of North Dakota can be found here.
The press release from Energy Transfer can be found here.