Federal Judge Requested to Dismiss Standing Rock Suit by Greenpeace

Status: Active

WASHINGTON, DC September 5, 2018 — Greenpeace filed motions to dismiss the amended complaint brought by Energy Transfer Partners in the baseless USD$900 million suit against  organizations, movements, and individuals that opposed the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline at the Standing Rock reservation.

United States Federal Judge Billy Roy Wilson ordered Energy Transfer Partners to file an amended version of its original complaint or face dismissal earlier this summer because the pipeline company had failed to plead “simple, concise and direct” allegations. Despite this order, Energy Transfer Partners filed an amended complaint adding five individual defendants and broadening its claims to include protests at other pipelines in Louisiana and Pennsylvania.

Greenpeace USA General Counsel Tom Wetterer said:

“Energy Transfer is effectively thumbing its nose at the court’s order to correct the many deficiencies in this baseless multimillion dollar suit. Rather than simplifying them, the amended complaint expands the company’s rambling, vague, and nonsensical claims. Adding even more accusations against protests of its other controversial pipelines in Louisiana and Pennsylvania only shows that Energy Transfer’s true intent is to silence any opposition.”

Publicly disagreeing with a corporation, especially a documented environmental and human rights offender like Energy Transfer, is not a crime. Free speech and free association are consecrated in the First Amendment and that’s what we are fighting for here: people’s rights to speak up to power.”

The same judge already dismissed BankTrack and Earth First! from the case, leaving Greenpeace and the five individuals as the only defendants in the pending case.

The case put forward by Energy Transfer Partners is a textbook strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP), that rests on meritless legal claims to punish advocacy and activism. These motions to dismiss coincide with the launch of the “Protect the Protest” task force in the United States, with simultaneous events in New York, San Francisco and Dallas. “Protect the Protest” brings together more than 20 organizations across different sectors, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Greenpeace, and Human Rights Watch, to campaign against corporations and people in positions of power who try to use SLAPPs to limit free speech and silence critics.

Greenpeace USA Executive Director Annie Leonard said about the new task force:

“Bogus lawsuits like the ones filed by Energy Transfer Partners and Resolute Forest Products against Greenpeace and others have brought different movements together to defend basic human rights like freedom of speech and freedom of association.”

‘Protect the Protest’ is the result of our shared determination to work together to provide legal, communications and strategic support to people and groups across the country who are sued for political dissent, criticizing egregious corporate practices, or simply speaking up for the good of our communities and planet. Today, we are turning the volume up.”

Media contact:

Rodrigo Estrada, rodrigo.estrada@greenpeace.org, +1 202 344 9292