The White House said it "has not been dictating the outcome" of talks between the Army Corps of Engineers and North Dakota residents near the site of the Dakota Access Pipeline, but press secretary Josh Earnest on Monday praised the Army nonetheless for listening to local concerns and blocking the pipeline over the weekend.
"This is typically the kind of principle that you would hear from conservative politicians," Earnest said of the idea that the government should respond to complaints from the community in which it works. He said he was confused over why Republican lawmakers had backed the pipeline project despite the local opposition.
"It's curious, to me," Earnest said.
Representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers had started "consultations" with locals near the site of the pipeline as protests have escalated in recent weeks, Earnest said.
"The result has been for this federal agency to determine that more study is required," he added.
The Army Corps indicated this week that it would reject an application to construct the pipeline after pushback from protesters, including Native Americans who said the pipe would damage sacred lands. President-elect Trump has suggested he would move ahead with the project.