President-elect Donald Trump has voiced support for the Dakota Access Pipeline project following months of protests that have sought to halt construction.
According to a communications briefing seen by Reuters, Trump expressed his support for completing the pipeline that will transport as many as 570,000 barrels of crude per day.
The briefing added that Trump’s support of the project was not related to any financial interest in Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the operator of the pipeline.
According to filings seen by the Washington Post, Trump exited his holdings in ETP in the summer of 2016.
In a statement released on Thursday, North Dakota senator John Hoeven said that he has met with Trump’s transition team to discuss “the need for the new president to issue an easement for the project.”
“The Obama administration should approve the easement for the Dakota Access Pipeline without delay, and also provide assistance to state and local law enforcement,” Hoeven said.
The U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Interior and the Department of the Army halted construction of the pipeline on Army Corps of Engineers land bordering or under Lake Oahe in September following push back from Native American groups.
Lake Oahe straddles the border between North Dakota and South Dakota.
That order was issued despite a federal judge ruling against a legal challenge brought against the project by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The tribe filed a lawsuit against the Army Corps earlier this year, claiming the Corps violated historic preservation and environmental laws when it approved the project.
Earlier this week, North Dakota state officials ordered protesters camping out on Army Corps land to evacuate ahead of harsh winter conditions.
Officials told Reuters on Wednesday that they will not actively enforce the order.
The Army Corps said in November that it had completed that it completed the review it launched in September and has “determined that additional discussion and analysis are warranted in light of the history of the Great Sioux Nation’s dispossessions of lands.”
The Corps has not disclosed when it expects a decision to be finalized.
The 1,172-mile Dakota Access pipeline will stretch from North Dakota to Illinois and was scheduled to be online in late 2016.
Sunoco Logistics Partners agreed last month to acquire ETP in a unit-for-unit transaction worth over $20 billion.
The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017, subject to receipt of ETP unitholder approval and other customary closing conditions.