Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Greenpeace v. Energy Transfer Partners: The Facts

Popular
Michael Short / Greenpeace

By Kelly Mitchell

Greenpeace USA, Greenpeace International, and others are facing another meritless attack from Trump's go-to lawyers in an attempt to silence advocacy work and attack free speech.

The latest corporation to sign on to the Kasowitz Benson Torres firm's bullying tactics is Energy Transfer Partners—the company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline.


In response to the powerful protests led by Indigenous communities and climate activists, the firm has filed a lawsuit claiming billions of dollars in damages on behalf of Energy Transfer. Here's what you need to know.

What is this lawsuit about?

In response to the powerful alliance of Indigenous communities and climate activists who protested Energy Transfer Partner's Dakota Access pipeline at Standing Rock, the Kasowitz firm has filed a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). The goal of this suit is to silence opposition by misrepresenting what happened on the ground at Standing Rock—making outrageous and racist claims that big green organizations like Greenpeace orchestrated the Indigenous-led movement at Standing Rock.

This lawsuit is about silencing opposition in Donald Trump's America. While Greenpeace is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, its impacts aren't limited to us. This suit could have far-reaching consequences for journalists, advocacy organizations and anyone who values free speech. The Kasowitz firm is trying to challenge all of our abilities to speak out against corporate power and destruction.

This is the second year in a row that the Kasowitz firm has filed a meritless lawsuit against Greenpeace and other public interest advocates on behalf of a corporation. In 2016, the plaintiff was Resolute Forest Products, Canada's largest logging company. That lawsuit made similarly baseless legal claims in an attempt to mislabel legal advocacy as criminal conduct through the use of U.S. racketeering laws (RICO), and presented constitutionally-protected free speech as defamatory. A hearing to dismiss the Resolute lawsuit is scheduled for Oct. 10, 2017 in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

These suits are part of a pattern of legal bullying, as desperate corporations and political hacks try to silence activists, journalists and anyone speaking out against injustice. Energy Transfer must know that the end of the fossil fuel era is upon us, and these attacks are a last gasp effort to retain relevance and an illusion of power. What they haven't seemed to realize is that none of us will quit until these pipelines are stopped for good.

Remind me, what happened at Standing Rock?

In the spring of 2016, hundreds of Indigenous activists and leaders began gathering along the proposed route of the Dakota Access pipeline to call attention to threats to sovereignty and water supply. In the months that followed, it became the largest gathering of tribes in 100 years and sparked a worldwide movement to resist the pipeline's construction and fight for Indigenous sovereignty.

Members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, alongside allies from across the country, filed legal injunctions with the Army Corps of Engineers to stop construction and conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Several financial institutions including Nordea and ING withdrew their support for the project, citing human rights and environmental violations after conducting their own investigations. In December, after a thorough review, the Obama administration denied the easement to cross under Lake Oahe, calling for a full EIS to look at alternative routes.

Despite the Obama administration's decision, in January, Trump made it one of his top priorities to greenlight construction of the pipeline without the EIS completed. Water protectors were removed from the camp, and in the weeks to follow documents revealed that Energy Transfer had hired mercenaries from private security firm TigerSwan to infiltrate the camp and deploy counter-terrorism tactics on water protectors.

Since construction, the pipeline has leaked three times, jeopardizing land and water. Activists across the country have found inspiration from Standing Rock and are actively resisting other tar sands and gas pipelines, including Kinder Morgan TransMountain and KXL.

What's the next step for this lawsuit?

Greenpeace will not back down in the face of this egregious misuse of the law. Firms like Kasowitz deploy these lawsuits in the hopes of silencing constitutionally-protected advocacy work and burdening organizations with additional costs. Greenpeace is on the line today, but these abusive tactics threaten anyone speaking out for social and environmental justice.

We will continue this fight in and outside the courtroom. Not only will we win this case, we will continue our important work challenging new oil and gas infrastructure, building powerful alliances, and fighting for free speech and public participation in our democracy.

On Oct. 10, the Resolute case will go before a federal judge in California. This will be a major test of Kasowitz's dubious legal strategy and an opportunity to show corporate polluters like Energy Transfer that this movement is more resilient than they anticipated.

Kelly Mitchell is the energy campaign director for Greenpeace USA.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Locals board up their shops in Vanuatu's capital of Port Vila on April 6, 2020 ahead of Tropical Cyclone Harold. PHILIPPE CARILLO / AFP via Getty Images

The most powerful extreme weather event of 2020 lashed the Pacific nation of Vanuatu Monday as it tries to protect itself from the new coronavirus.

Read More Show Less

Two rare Malayan tiger cubs born at the Bronx Zoo in January 2016, Nadia and Azul made their public debut in September 2016. Nadia has now tested positive for the new coronavirus, and Azul has shown symptoms.

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo is believed to be the first animal in the U.S. and the first tiger in the world to test positive for the new coronavirus.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Derrick Jackson

By Derrick Z. Jackson

As much as hurricanes Katrina and Maria upended African American and Latinx families, the landfall of the coronavirus brings a gale of another order. This Category 5 of infectious disease packs the power to level communities already battered from environmental, economic, and health injustice. If response and relief efforts fail to adequately factor in existing disparities, the current pandemic threatens a knockout punch to the American Dream.

Read More Show Less
President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable meeting with energy sector CEOs in the Cabinet Room of the White House April 3 in Washington, DC. Doug Mills-Pool / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

A coalition of climate organizations strongly criticized President Donald Trump's in-person Friday meeting with the chief executives of some of the biggest fossil fuel companies in the world, saying the industry that fueled climate disaster must not be allowed to profiteer from government giveaways by getting bailout funds or preferred treatment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD

An Important Note

No supplement, diet, or lifestyle modification — aside from social distancing and practicing proper hygiene ⁠— can protect you from developing COVID-19.

The strategies outlined below may boost your immune health, but they don't protect specifically against COVID-19.

Read More Show Less