Energy Transfer LP v. Greenpeace International

On December of 2022, a Minnesota district court judge issued an order in ongoing litigation between Energy Transfer LP and Greenpeace International related to protests aimed at shutting down the operation of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  The order pertained to an attempt by Energy Transfer LP to serve subpoenas upon the media activist organization Unicorn Riot, aimed at compelling the production of documents related to Unicorn Riot’s videotaping of protest activity.  Unicorn Riot refused to produce the materials.

In the December 16 district court order, the court held that Unicorn Riot was “news media” covered by Minnesota’s Free Flow of Information Act (MFFIA), and that Energy Transfer LP had failed to show that document production could be achieved via a statutory exception to MMFIA. (“Plaintiff has failed to show by clear and convincing evidence that the statutory exception applies.”)

Energy Transfer LP appealed the decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals. FCR, along with journalist Tony Webster and the Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press, all filed participation requests to file amicus briefs. FCR’s amicus participation request can be found here, and it focused on defending the court’s holding that Unicorn Riot constituted “news media’ under the MMFIA.

On March 21, 2023, the Minnesota Court of Appeals turned away the appeal by Energy Transfer LP on the grounds that it was premature, but noted that “[a]ppellants may seek relief of the December 16, 2022 order in a timely appeal” at a future time.