The Anti-pipeline Activists Repeat the Same Mistakes that Got Them Sued

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Common sense would suggest that if you’re named as a defendant in a billion-dollar lawsuit, accused of making “materially false, misleading, and defamatory statements,” you probably would think twice before making the same materially false, misleading, and defamatory statements again. But the “Keep It in the Ground” activists are not known for their sense, common or otherwise. 

Just weeks after Energy Transfer Partners filed a lawsuit against Greenpeace and other members of the anti-pipeline “enterprise,” at least four members of that enterprise—350.org, the Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Club, and Food and Water Watch—have teamed up with other extremist groups to launch the “Stop Energy Transfer Partners” campaign’s National Day of Action (September 8-9), which is chock full of the same lies that ETP is suing them for in the first place.

According to ETP’s press release announcing the lawsuit, “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 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.”

As ETP demonstrates in its lawsuit, those claims are patently false.

For example, the activists fabricated evidence that ETP’s security personnel attacked “peaceful protestors” by publishing a photograph purporting to show young girl who had been bitten by a security dog at the DAPL site. But in reality, the picture was of a young girl who had been bitten by a dog years before, nowhere near the Dakota Access pipeline, and completely unrelated to the protests.

Yet, despite being named in a billion-dollar lawsuit—a suit that cites concrete evidence disproving the activists’ defamatory statements—these four extremist groups are still forging ahead with another anti-ETP campaign that uses virtually the same language that ETP is suing them for.

Compare this sentence from the lawsuit …

On August 24, 2016, 350.org issued a press release accusing DAPL of “wreaking havoc on nearby sacred lands and contaminating water.”

 with this content from the “Stop Energy Transfer Partners” toolkit:

Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) is wreaking havoc across the United States … Its lust for profit cuts every corner to build pipelines as fast as possible, destroying sacred sites, poisoning water, and putting thousands of lives at risk along the way. (Emphasis added.)

Considering the fact that ETP is alleging that “this group of co-conspirators (the ‘Enterprise’) manufactured and disseminated materially false and misleading information about Energy Transfer and the Dakota Access Pipeline’” and “that these actions violated federal and state racketeering statutes,” these extreme activists are playing with fire when they admit the following on their campaign website:

By taking coordinated action targeting ETP, we will launch a broader, sustained effort to disrupt ETP’s business-as-usual until the company withdraws their unnecessary and damaging pipeline projects, stops violating human rights, and stops polluting the air, water, and climate. (Emphasis added.)

It’s interesting to note that the first mention of the “Stop Energy Transfer Partners” campaign was on August 19, three days before ETP filed its mammoth lawsuit. Perhaps they just chose to ignore the dire warnings that ETP laid out in their 231-page complaint. But that wouldn’t make any sense now, would it?