Judge Slams Pipeline Corporation for Frivolous Legal Claims Against Activists

press@ccrjustice.org

August 3, 2018, North Dakota – Today, a federal judge blocked Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the corporation behind the Dakota Access Pipeline, from continuing a lawsuit against Earth First!. ETP had filed a sprawling lawsuit, claiming the environmental movement Earth First! had funded a violent terrorist presence and criminal enterprise at the Standing Rock protests, with $500,000 and proceeds from drug sales on the site, and had conspired with Greenpeace and other environmental groups to deceive the public about the environmental risks of pipelines. Today, the court rejected ETP’s allegations as factually unsupported. The judge also blocked ETP’s attempt to collect discovery against the Earth First! Journal, a non-party in the suit.

“It is clear from Plaintiffs’ voluminous filings of historical, irrelevant web posting that Plaintiffs did not, at the time of filing, have evidentiary support for the specific allegations against [Earth First!],” the judge wrote.

The judge had given ETP until today to provide a sufficient reason why he should not dismiss Earth First! from the lawsuit.

“Energy Transfer Partners is trying to distract us from their continued destruction of communities and the environment by concocting an elaborate story alleging that the powerful, Indigenous-led resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline was a criminal conspiracy spearheaded by mostly white NGOs and environmental movements,” said Grayson Flory, editor of the Earth First! Journal. “Instead of taking the bait, we should all be joining groups like the L’eau est la Vie Camp in Louisiana that is actively blocking an ETP pipeline project, as well as supporting the political prisoners currently serving time for resisting ETP’s dangerous pipelines, including Red Fawn Fallis, Michael “Little Feather” Giron, and Ellen Gerhart.”

ETP had attempted to serve Earth First!—a broad social movement—by sending the lawsuit to the small environmental publication Earth First! Journal. After the judge ruled that Earth First! had not been properly served, ETP sought permission to take discovery against Earth First! Journal or amend the complaint to include the Journal as a defendant. Today’s ruling blocked ETP’s attempt to conflate a broad social movement with a publication reporting on environmental activism. Amending the complaint to add Earth First! Journal as a party responsible for an alleged criminal enterprise would be “futile and possibly frivolous,” the judge wrote.

The judge also previously dismissed claims against environmental organization BankTrack, calling ETP’s application of racketeering laws to BankTrack “dangerously broad.”


The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

Last modified 

August 6, 2018

Red Fawn