Energy Transfer Partners, the developer behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, has sued Greenpeace and several other groups for what it calls “campaigns of misinformation.” ETP argues in the lawsuit filed Tuesday that environmental groups are running a racket designed to raise money by emotionalizing issues. ETP’s press release is here but it actually tones down the language of the court filing a bit. From the filing:
This case involves a network of putative not-for-profits and rogue eco-terrorist groups who employ patterns of criminal activity and campaigns of misinformation to target legitimate companies and industries with fabricated environmental claims and other purported misconduct, inflicting billions of dollars in damage…
In its simplest form, this model has two components: (1) manufacturing a media spectacle based upon phony but emotionally charged hot-button issues, sensational lies, and intentionally incited physical violence, property destruction, and other criminal conduct; and (2)relentlessly publicizing these sensational lies, manufactured conflict and conflagration, and misrepresented “causes” to generate funding from individual donors, foundations, and corporate sponsors. These putative “environmental” groups accept grants and other consideration from foundations and special business interests who use the groups’ environmental mantle to advance their own ulterior agendas…
Under the “Greenpeace Model,” raising money and the network’s profile is the primary objective, not saving the environment. “Issues” are selected according to which ones will generate maximum publicity and donations, irrespective of the environmental merits. As a matter of course, the campaigns are based upon fabricated evidence and witness accounts. Greenpeace has staged phony photo-ops, and fabricated false GPS coordinates representing locations and events that never occurred to support its campaigns, deceive the public, and elicit donations.
The entire filing is over 175 pages long. It argues environmentalists mounted a massive fake news campaign against the company and adds that the lies led directly to acts of vandalism against equipment and threats against individuals:
Additionally, Enterprise members and those they incited and directed by the lies disseminated by the Enterprise, have taken other extreme measures to sabotage the pipeline, including repeated acts of arson on construction equipment and pipeline destruction. In August 2016, three fires were reported in Jasper Country, Reasnor, and Mahaska County, Iowa. In each instance, heavy equipment, including bulldozers and backhoes, were intentionally burned. In total, the fires caused almost $2 million in damages. In October 2016, unknown individuals set fire to construction equipment along the pipeline route near the town of Reasnor, Iowa, causing more than $2 million in damages to construction equipment.
Later the filing offers this summary of damage caused to the company, which it says totals “hundreds of millions of dollars”:
The Enterprise’s scheme has inflicted enormous damage on Energy Transfer’sreputation and business operations. The scheme’s dissemination of negative misinformation devastated the market reputation of Energy Transfer as well as the business relationships vital to its operations and growth. Industry participants important to the businesses including creditors, investors and shippers — paid close attention to the Enterprise’s negative publicity campaign and were understandably influenced by it in their dealings with the Company. As a result of this misconduct, Plaintiffs suffered no less than hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.
I’m not an attorney so I won’t attempt to judge the validity of this lawsuit, but ETP is challenging the entire structure of the environmentalist left by tying the big name groups to the behavior they incite on the front lines of these conflicts. No doubt all of this will be great for Greenpeace’s fundraising in the short term, but if any of the claims made here hold up in court the results could be dramatic.