A couple of years ago, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) proposed that skeptics of dangerous manmade global warming should be persecuted—or, rather, prosecuted—civilly or criminally under the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The idea fizzled because doing so would be a clear violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech.
But when people go beyond the peaceful protest pictured above and instead resort to defamatory lies and property destruction, charges of racketeering can come into play.
That’s a good possibility in a lawsuit recently filed by Energy Transfer Partners, which built the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline despite year-long violent protests. ETP is suing “Greenpeace International, Greenpeace Inc., Greenpeace Fund, Inc., BankTrack, Earth First!, and other organizations and individuals,” alleging that “the Enterprise,” as ETP calls the groups collectively, “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 Complaint also alleges that the Enterprise incited, funded, and facilitated crimes and acts of terrorism to further these objectives. It further alleges claims that these actions violated federal and state racketeering statutes, defamation, and constituted defamation and tortious interference under North Dakota law.”
In a press release, ETP said:
The DAPL misinformation campaign was predicated on a series of false, alarmist, and sensational claims that plaintiffs:
- encroached on tribal treaty lands;
- desecrated sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s (“SRST”) in constructing DAPL;
- constructed DAPL without consulting with and over the rights and objections of SRST; and
- used excessive and illegal force against peaceful protestors.
The Enterprise also claimed that the pipeline will inevitably result in catastrophic oil spills, poisoned water, and massive climate change, while ironically, members of the Enterprise deliberately and maliciously attempted to cut holes in the pipeline with torches which, if successful, would have resulted in significant environmental damage and possible loss of life.
The Enterprise supported these false claims with manufactured evidence, including phony GPS coordinates purporting to show the existence of cultural and religious artifacts along DAPL’s corridor, and sham affidavits submitted in court.
In addition to its misinformation campaign, the Enterprise directly and indirectly funded eco-terrorists on the ground in North Dakota. These groups formed their own outlaw camp among peaceful protestors gathered near Lake Oahe, and exploited the peaceful activities of these groups to further the Enterprise’s corrupt agenda by inducing and directing violent and destructive attacks against law enforcement as well as Plaintiffs’ property and personnel. The Enterprise then flagrantly manipulated these “made-for-TV” events to raise more funds for the Enterprise. These terrorist groups also funded their activities and the Enterprise by using donations to fund a lucrative drug trafficking scheme inside the camps.
Other illegal activities directed at Energy Transfer and its executives that are alleged in the Complaint include persistent attempted cyber-attacks and telephonic and electronic threats to the physical safety of executives.
This will be an interesting suit to track. Greenpeace et al. just might get their radical Green wings clipped.
Featured image “Dakota Access Pipeline protesters against Donald Trump” courtesy of Fibonacci Blue, Flickr Creative Commons.