Federal Court Dismisses Pipeline Corporation’s Lawsuit Against the Earth First! Environmental Movement

August 23, 2018, North Dakota – Yesterday, a federal court dismissed the environmental movement Earth First! from a lawsuit by Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the corporation behind the Dakota Access Pipeline.

One year ago, ETP, represented by Kasowitz, Benson, Torres, the firm that represents President Trump, filed a sprawling lawsuit, claiming Earth First! funded a violent terrorist presence and criminal enterprise at the Standing Rock protests, with half a million dollars and proceeds from drug sales in a conspiracy with mainstream environmental groups.

“Earth First! should have never been named in this far-fetched suit in the first place,” said Pamela Spees, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “The court gave ETP ample opportunity to figure out how to sue Earth First! but they couldn’t do it precisely because you can’t sue a movement, idea or philosophy.”

ETP had previously attempted to serve the movement Earth First! by sending the lawsuit to the small environmental publication Earth First! Journal. The court rejected ETP’s attempt to do so because the Journal, represented by CCR, established it was a legal entity separate from the Earth First! movement. In its ruling, the court noted that ETP itself admitted that Earth First! is “the name of a movement used by a number of different individuals and entities” and failed to show that Earth First! could be sued.

The dismissal as to Earth First! comes a month after the court ordered the case also be dismissed as to Banktrack, a Dutch non-profit environmental justice organization. The judge also issued a subsequent ruling giving ETP 30 days to identify and serve the individual defendants that they claim “trained ‘eco-terrorists’” and “approved and directed” the alleged racketeering, stating that they have “had a year since filing this action to identify and serve Doe Defendants who appear so critical to [ETP’s] claims.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.


Last modified 

August 23, 2018