President-elect Trump supports completion of Dakota Access Pipeline

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday said for the first time that he supports the completion of a pipeline project near a North Dakota Indian reservation, which has been the subject of months of protests by tribes and environmentalists.

A communications briefing from Trump's transition team said despite media reports that Trump owns a stake in Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the pipeline, Trump's support of the pipeline "has nothing to do with his personal investments and everything to do with promoting policies that benefit all Americans."

"Those making such a claim are only attempting to distract from the fact that President-elect Trump has put forth serious policy proposals he plans to set in motion on Day One," said the daily briefing note sent to campaign supporters and congressional staff.

RELATED: Protestors celebrate Dakota Access pipeline decision

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Protestors celebrate Dakota Access pipeline decision
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Protestors celebrate Dakota Access pipeline decision

Native American and other activists celebrate after learning an easement had been denied for the Dakota Access Pipeline at Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The US Army Corps of Engineers announced today that it will not grant an easement to the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under a lake on the Sioux Tribes Standing Rock reservation, ending a months-long standoff.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Activists celebrate at Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The Army Corps of Engineers told Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Archambault Sunday that the current route for the Dakota Access pipeline will be denied.

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

A line of cars waits to enter the Oceti Sakowin camp as activists celebrate after the Army Corps of Engineers denied an easement for the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline to continue adjacent to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., December 4, 2016.

(REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

A woman celebrates in the Oceti Sakowin camp after making a 150 mile canoe trip from Washington St. during a protest against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. December 1, 2016.

(REUTERS/Stephanie Keith)

Oglala Sioux tribal elder Lance King's headdress is pictured during celebrations after the Army Corps of Engineers denied an easement for the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline inside of the Oceti Sakowin camp adjacent to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., December 4, 2016.

(REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

Activists celebrate at Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota, after hearing that the Army Corps of Engineers has denied the current route for the Dakota Access pipeline. The US Army Corps of Engineers on Sunday announced they will no longer allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under a lake on the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, marking a huge win for Native Americans and protesters who had long opposed the construction.

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Native American and other activists celebrate after learning an easement had been denied for the Dakota Access Pipeline at Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota. The US Army Corps of Engineers announced today that it will not grant an easement to the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under a lake on the Sioux Tribes Standing Rock reservation, ending a months-long standoff.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Activists celebrate at Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota, after hearing that the Army Corps of Engineers has denied the current route for the Dakota Access pipeline. The US Army Corps of Engineers on Sunday announced they will no longer allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under a lake on the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, marking a huge win for Native Americans and protesters who had long opposed the construction.

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Activists celebrate at Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota, after hearing that the Army Corps of Engineers has denied the current route for the Dakota Access pipeline. The US Army Corps of Engineers on Sunday announced they will no longer allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under a lake on the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota, marking a huge win for Native Americans and protesters who had long opposed the construction.

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Activists celebrate at Oceti Sakowin Camp on the edge of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on December 4, 2016 outside Cannon Ball, North Dakota, after hearing that the Army Corps of Engineers has denied the current route for the Dakota Access pipeline.

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

People celebrate in Oceti Sakowin camp as "water protectors" continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. December 4, 2016.

(REUTERS/Stephanie Keith)

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Activists have spent months protesting plans to route the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline beneath a lake near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, saying the project poses a threat to water resources and sacred Native American sites.

On Thursday, U.S. military veterans were arriving at a camp to join thousands of activists braving snow and freezing temperatures to protest the pipeline.

Republican Trump has been a vocal supporter of another high-profile pipeline project, Transcanada's Keystone XL, which Democratic President Barack Obama denied a permit for last year.

Republican North Dakota Senator John Hoeven said he met with Trump's transition team to discuss the delayed pipeline.

"Today, Mr. Trump expressed his support for the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has met or exceeded all environmental standards set forth by four states and the Army Corps of Engineers," Hoeven said in a statement.

"It is important to know that the new administration will work to help us grow and diversify our energy economy and build the energy infrastructure necessary to move it from where it is produced to where it is needed," he said.

RELATED: Powerful images from the North Dakota pipeline protests

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North Dakota pipeline protests
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North Dakota pipeline protests
Protesters stand on heavy machinery after halting work on the Energy Transfer Partners Dakota Access oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S. September 6, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
A modified highway sign reads 'No Pipeline' near the encampment where hundreds of people have gathered to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's protest of Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that is slated to cross the nearby Missouri River, September 4, 2016 near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Native Americans ride with raised fists to a sacred burial ground that was disturbed by bulldozers building the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), near the encampment where hundreds of people have gathered to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's protest of the oil pipeline slated to cross the nearby Missouri River, September 4, 2016 near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Protestors were attacked by dogs and sprayed with an eye and respiratory irritant yesterday when they arrived at the site to protest after learning of the bulldozing work. / AFP / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
People on horses are seen at the encampment September 4, 2016 near Cannon Ball, North Dakota where hundreds of people have gathered to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that is slated to transport approximately 470,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken Oil Field in North Dakota to refineries in Illinois. Protestors were attacked by dogs and sprayed with an eye and respiratory irritant yesterday when they arrived at the site to protest after learning of the bulldozing work. / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Phil Little Thunder Sr attends an evening gathering at an encampment where hundreds of people have gathered to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's protest against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipe (DAPL), near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on September 3, 2016. The Indian reservation in North Dakota is the site of the largest gathering of Native Americans in more than 100 years. Indigenous people from across the US are living in camps on the Standing Rock reservation as they protest the construction of the new oil pipeline which they fear will destroy their water supply. / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Boys enjoy a later afternoon horseback ride at an encampment where hundreds of people have gathered to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's protest against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipe (DAPL), near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on September 3, 2016. The Indian reservation in North Dakota is the site of the largest gathering of Native Americans in more than 100 years. Indigenous people from across the US are living in camps on the Standing Rock reservation as they protest the construction of the new oil pipeline which they fear will destroy their water supply. / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
The Missouri River is seen beyond an encampment September 4, 2016 near Cannon Ball, North Dakota where hundreds of people have gathered to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that is slated to transport approximately 470,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken Oil Field in North Dakota to refineries in Illinois. Protestors were attacked by dogs and sprayed with an eye and respiratory irritant yesterday when they arrived at the site to protest after learning of the bulldozing work. / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
People sign a teepee with words of support for protestors at an encampment where hundreds of people have gathered to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's protest against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipe (DAPL), near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on September 3, 2016. The Indian reservation in North Dakota is the site of the largest gathering of Native Americans in more than 100 years. Indigenous people from across the US are living in camps on the Standing Rock reservation as they protest the construction of the new oil pipeline which they fear will destroy their water supply. / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Native Americans march to a burial ground sacred site that was disturbed by bulldozers building the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), near the encampment where hundreds of people have gathered to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's protest of the oil pipeline that is slated to cross the Missouri River nearby, September 4, 2016 near Cannon Ball, North Dakota. Protestors were attacked by dogs and sprayed with an eye and respiratory irritant yesterday when they arrived at the site to protest after learning of the bulldozing work. / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Nantinki Young of the Rosebud Sioux tribe, the head cook supervising all the kitchens poses for a photograph at an encampment where hundreds of people have gathered to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's protest against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipe (DAPL), near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on September 3, 2016. The Indian reservation in North Dakota is the site of the largest gathering of Native Americans in more than 100 years. Indigenous people from across the US are living in camps on the Standing Rock reservation as they protest the construction of the new oil pipeline which they fear will destroy their water supply. / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Evan Butcher of the Chippewa Tribe plays basketball with younger boys September 4, 2016 at the encampment near Cannon Ball, North Dakota where hundreds of people have gathered to join the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) that is slated to transport approximately 470,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken Oil Field in North Dakota to refineries in Illinois. / AFP / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
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