Greenpeace accused of eco-terrorism, other crimes by company behind Dakota Access Pipeline

The company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline has accused Greenpeace and other environmental activists of eco-terrorism racketeering and other crimes. Environmentalists fear the pipeline might endanger water supply of Native American Tribes in the Dakotas.(See: Judge orders additional environmental review of Dakota Access Pipeline)

The Dallas-based oil and gas company, Energy Transfer Partners, filed a lawsuit against the activists in US District Court in North Dakota yesterday, becoming the second firm to accuse Greenpeace of breaking a federal organised crime law used to try members of the Mafia, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO Act.

Last year, Greenpeace had a RICO suit slapped against it by Canadian logging company Resolute Forest Products, after the environmental group launched a multi-media campaign against the company for harvesting trees in Canada's sensitive boral forests. Resolute was branded as a ''forest destroyer'', under the campaign.

Resolute and Energy Transfer Partners is being represented by Kasowitz, Benson & Torres, a law firm founded by Marc Kasowitz, president Donald Trump's longtime attorney who was sidelined recently in the Russia investigations.

Defending its activism, Greepeace accused the law 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 US.

''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.''

President Trump revived the oil infrastructure project through an executive order in January, only four days after taking office.

Only a month earlier, the Army Corps of Engineers under president Barack Obama shut down construction of the final leg of the pipeline under Lake Oahe, near the border between North and South Dakota, to consider alternative routes. However, Trump's action put the pipeline on track to begin pumping by June.