BISMARCK - A federal judge has dismissed Energy Transfer Partners' claims against a Dutch nonprofit the Texas company accused of threatening banks that financed the Dakota Access Pipeline.
In an order filed Tuesday, July 24, U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson of Arkansas said Energy Transfer Partners and its parent company failed to show BankTrack violated federal racketeering laws. BankTrack is a nonprofit foundation based in the Netherlands that pressures banks to stop financing projects with which it disagrees, according to the judge's order.
Energy Transfer Partners, which spearheaded the oil pipeline that attracted massive protests near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, accused BankTrack of using "extortive threats" against banks and "fraudulently" inducing donations.
But the judge said BankTrack's actual conduct consisted of "allegedly writing a few letters to financial institutions and posting links to the letters on its website." He said "none of BankTrack's actions promoted, assisted, or condoned violent criminal conduct."
Wilson also said the court lacked "personal jurisdiction" in part because BankTrack "had no direct contact with North Dakota."
The lawsuit was filed almost a year ago. It accused Greenpeace and others of spreading misinformation and inciting crimes in their opposition to the pipeline. Greenpeace and Earth First! are still listed as defendants in the case.
Robin Martinez, an attorney for BankTrack, welcomed the decision and described the organization's work as "corporate social responsibility advocacy" that's protected by the First Amendment. He said they were "mystified" at being sued in the first place.
Attorneys for Greenpeace and Energy Transfer Partners didn't return messages Wednesday afternoon.