Judge dismisses another defendant in Dakota Access lawsuit

Another group named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by Energy Transfer Partners over the protests against its Dakota Access oil pipeline has been dismissed by a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Billy Roy Wilson in North Dakota dismissed the $1 billion lawsuit filed against Earth First, saying Dallas based Energy Transfer failed to make a case that it is an entity that can be sued.

The lawsuit was filed against environmental groups and the judge’s ruling leaves only Greenpeace as the remaining group still named in the lawsuit.

The claim was made by the Center for Constitutional Rights that Earth First is a philosophy or movement and cannot be used.

Center for Constitutional Rights attorney Pamela Spees applauded the ruling, calling the lawsuit “far-fetched.” ETP officials have said the company doesn’t comment on active litigation.

ETP sued Earth First, BankTrack and Greenpeace last August, alleging that they worked to undermine the $3.8 billion pipeline that’s now shipping North Dakota oil to a distribution point in Illinois. Opposition to the pipeline by groups and American Indian tribes who feared environmental harm inspired large protests in southern North Dakota and resulted in 761 arrests over a six-month span in late 2016 and early 2017.

Last month, Wilson ruled that the company had no claim against BankTrack. The Dutch environmental group had urged banks not to finance the pipeline, which Wilson concluded did not amount to radical ecoterrorism.