The company that built the Dakota Access oil pipeline filed suit against Greenpeace and other environmental groups Tuesday alleging they disseminated false information about the project and interfered with construction.
Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners alleges that the groups' actions opposing the pipeline interfered with business, incited violence, and facilitated crimes and acts of terrorism.
The company says activists targeted financial institutions that backed the project, and violated racketeering and defamation laws.
The pipeline was delayed for months due to legal wrangling and on-the-ground protests by tribes and groups that fear environmental harm.
The lawsuit filed in federal court in North Dakota seeks damages that could approach $1 billion dollars.
Greenpeace attorney Tom Wetterer said in a recorded statement that the lawsuit is meritless, and alleges this is the second consecutive year that President Trump’s attorneys have singled-out the organization.
Energy Transfer Partners is represented by Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, a law firm whose managing partner, Marc Kasowitz, is President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney.
“It is yet another classic ‘Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation’ or, a SLAPP," said Whetterer.
A SLAPP is intended to censor groups of people by hampering their efforts, or what Wetterer refers to as Greenpeace's “legitimate advocacy work,” with expensive and time-consuming litigation.
“It’s not designed to seek justice, but it’s designed to silence free speech through expensive, time-consuming litigation," said Wetterer. "What this has become is a pattern of harassment by corporate bullies, with Trump’s attorneys leading the way.”
The 1,200-mile pipeline began moving North Dakota oil through South Dakota and Iowa to a distribution point in Illinois June 1.
Police made 761 arrests in North Dakota between August and February.