On that chilling law suit against the environmental groups

… which I’ve posted on before … there are new developments, summarized at Inside Climate News:

Invoking the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, a federal conspiracy law devised to ensnare mobsters, the suit accuses the organizations, as well as several green campaigners individually and numerous unidentified “co-conspirators,” of running what amounts to a giant racket.

“Maximizing donations, not saving the environment, is Greenpeace’s true objective,” the complaint says. “Its campaigns are consistently based on sensational misinformation untethered to facts or science, but crafted instead to induce strong emotions and, thereby, donations.” Dozens of the group’s campaign emails and tweets, it said, constituted wire fraud.

“As an NGO, that is a deeply chilling argument,” said Carroll Muffett, president of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), which joined eight other groups to file an amici curiae brief supporting a move to dismiss Resolute’s case.

ICN goes on to describe the background and details of the suits. And now, an important appearance before the courts is about to happen.

On Oct. 10, Greenpeace will ask a federal judge in California to dismiss the case. The group submitted a similar motion last year in Georgia, where the suit was originally filed. The Georgia judge later moved the case to California, where two of the defendants are based, saying Resolute had not provided any “factual basis from which to infer that defendants committed fraud or extortion” in Georgia. “Rather, the allegations in the complaint, at best, support the inference that the defendants organized and held a protest in Augusta.”

“It is very alarming that you can have plaintiffs like this, representing corporate interests attacking legitimate critics doing advocacy work by just drafting a complaint, throwing whatever in there, stretching racketeering law and going after constitutionally protected free speech by throwing labels out there basically trying to criminalize legitimate advocacy work,” said Tom Wetterer, Greenpeace’s general counsel.

Read all the details here.

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7 thoughts on “On that chilling law suit against the environmental groups

  1. They mention how RICO is intended to be used against mobsters. I wonder if people will reconsider trying to use RICO against fossil fuel companies.

  2. Fundraising “…campaigns are consistently based on sensational misinformation untethered to facts or science, but crafted instead to induce strong emotions and, thereby, donations.”

    Wouldn’t this include most churches and religious organizations?

  3. Marco, if you are somehow equating the actions of Greenpeace, an NGO that depends on its members for funding, with those of a powerful, multinational corporation, which is legally obliged to maximize profit, irrespective of the social or environmental consequences, then you have severely lost the plot.

    Corporations are private tyrannies. They have co-opted much of democracy and have been ruunning the show in the US for over 30 years. If we are unable to leash and tether them very soon, then our species has little prospect for longer term survival. Moreover, NGOs like Greenpeace exist solely because our political and economic systems have vomited up an ideology that is willing to commit ecocide and genocide in slow motion to assuage the gluttonous aspirations of the privileged few.

  4. “I’d like to note that Greenpeace is using the same excuse as the fossil fuel companies re RICO. Food for thought.”

    Greenpeace has the IPCC and most scientific organizations supporting their claims. For claims of fact about the world, at least the sort that scientists are concerned with, there is no better support.

    MikeN has a more significant point, but laws are usually applied as they are written, not as they are intended. I don’t see any mass movement protesting the RICO laws being misapplied, and that process leading to new legislation, were it to occur, would be too late for this suit.

    Higher_Martin may have hit on a significant factor that may never be discussed in the open during the proceedings – the judges may make decisions sometimes, partly, based on how they think it may be applied in the future. More often perhaps it merely subtly affects the phrasing and alleged reasons behind any decision.

  5. No, Jeff, I am not saying both are the same. I say they both use the same argument against RICO being applied to them. And *that* should be food for thought. It is as if you are arguing that organizations like Greenpeace can not be wrong and/or willfully distort the truth, thereby gathering millions in donations on a false basis. And yet, Greenpeace does (see below).

    Kermit, Greenpeace may largely follow the IPCC on climate change, in several other areas it happily ignores science or cherrypicks science, in particular related to GMOs and nuclear power. All because of the fear of corporations…while acting as one: maximizing donations.

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