Dakota Access Developer Sues Greenpeace Over Actions Against Pipeline

Aug 22, 2017

Demonstrators gather on Highway 1806 last October to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Credit Amy Sisk / Inside Energy

The company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline has filed a federal lawsuit against Greenpeace and other groups it claims conspired against the Dakota Access Pipeline.


Energy Transfer Partners says these groups spread false information about the company and pipeline project to raise donations. The pipeline developer claims they planted and funded "eco-terrorists."

"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," the company said in a statement.

In its complaint, Energy Transfer Partners singles out factions of protesters it says tried to radicalize the anti-pipeline movement through attacks damaging the pipeline and construction equipment.

Joye Braun, an activist with the Indigenous Environmental Network that opposes the pipeline, takes issue with the company’s characterization of protesters' violent actions.

"The truth is, did anybody die? No," she said. "Was anybody’s life in danger? No."

She said protesters remained peaceful, in prayer. The violence, she said, was committed against demonstrators, who were sometimes hit by non-lethal bullets, tear gas or pepper spray during confrontations with police.

Protesters used other strategies to fight the pipeline. Namely, they led a campaign urging banks to cut ties with the company and rethink future investments. Energy Transfer Partners claims groups like Greenpeace spread misinformation to rally support for this divestment movement.

"I honestly believe it’s an attempt to try to recoup what they’ve lost with the divestment campaign," Braun said.

The company’s lawsuit accuses Greenpeace and the other defendents, BankTrack and Earth First, of racketeering. It's a tactic the company's lawyers have tried before. The law firm representing Energy Transfer Partners made similar racketeering allegations in an unrelated suit against Greenpeace last year.

In a statement, Greenpeace called this a “pattern of harassment by corporate bullies" that is "not designed to seek justice, but to silence free speech through expensive, time-consuming litigation."