Energy Transfer Partners sues environmental groups over DAPL

By Patrick C. Miller | August 22, 2017

Energy Transfer Equity LP and Energy Transfer Partners LP today filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of North Dakota against five environmental organizations.

Named in the lawsuit are Greenpeace International, Greenpeace Inc., Greenpeace Fund Inc., BankTrack, Earth First! and other organizations and individuals. Energy Transfer is seeking compensatory damages in an amount to be determined at trial, as well as treble and punitive damages.

The lawsuit alleges that the groups and others “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 ETP complaint also alleges that the organizations “incited, funded, and facilitated crimes and acts of terrorism to further these objectives.” In addition, it claims the “actions violated federal and state racketeering statutes, defamation and constituted defamation and tortious interference under North Dakota law.”

The lawsuit contends that the DAPL misinformation campaign was based on “a series of false, alarmist and sensational claims,” including that ETP encroached on tribal treaty lands; desecrated sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe during construction; constructed the pipeline without consulting the tribe; and used excessive and illegal force against peaceful protestors.

Energy Transfer alleges that the groups it’s suing have conceded that their campaign inflicted “hundreds of millions of dollars of damage” to the company,” including increased costs of financing resulting from interference with the company’s financial relationships and mitigation costs in response to the “illegal and malicious campaign.”

The Energy Transfer complaint also asserts that the attacks were “calculated and thoroughly irresponsible, causing enormous harm to people and property along the pipeline’s route.”

Because DAPL was a legally permitted project that underwent nearly three years of rigorous environmental review, Energy Transfer said it 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”.

Energy Transfer alleges that the damages—as well as the harm to the company’s reputation—are ongoing as a result of the misinformation campaign. A news release said an Energy Transfer attorney is continuing an investigation into the groups’ campaign and practices.