The company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, which drew international attention for potentially endangering the water supply of Native American tribes in the Dakotas, accused Greenpeace and other environmental activists who helped organize protests of eco-terrorism, racketeering and other crimes.
By filing a lawsuit against the activists in U.S. District Court in North Dakota on Tuesday, the Dallas-based oil and gas company Energy Transfer Partners became the second firm to accuse Greenpeace of breaking a federal organized crime law used to try members of the mafia, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO Act.
Last year, a Canadian logging company, Resolute Forest Products, filed a RICO lawsuit against Greenpeace after the environmental group mounted a multimedia campaign against the company for harvesting trees in Canada’s sensitive boreal forests. As part of that campaign, Greenpeace branded Resolute a “forest destroyer.”
In their respective lawsuits, Energy Transfer Partners and Resolute are being represented by Kasowitz, Benson & Torres LLP, a law firm founded by Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s longtime attorney who was sidelined recently in the Russia investigations.
Greenpeace defended its activism, accusing the firm’s lawyers of being “corporate mercenaries willing to abuse the legal system to silence legitimate advocacy work,” according Tom Wetterer, general counsel for Greenpeace USA.
The lawsuit was filed against both Greenpeace’s U.S. chapter and the international umbrella organization, Greenpeace International.
“This is the second consecutive year Donald Trump’s go-to attorneys at the Kasowitz law firm have filed a meritless lawsuit against Greenpeace,” Wetterer said in a statement.
He added that the complaint “repackages spurious allegations and legal claims made against Greenpeace by the Kasowitz firm on behalf of Resolute.”
Rodrigo Estrada, a Greenpeace USA spokesman, said the group has not “been served papers yet.”