HOUSTON/WASHINGTON The top executive at the company behind the embattled Dakota Access Pipeline has donated more than $100,000 to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump since June, according to campaign finance disclosure records.
The donations by Kelcy Warren, chairman and chief executive officer at pipeline operator Energy Transfer Partners, support the candidate seen by many as more likely to promote the U.S. oil and gas industry than his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Warren donated $300 to the Trump campaign during the primaries, and $2,700 to Trump during the general election phase of the campaign, for the maximum contribution allowed by a single individual during an election.
He also gave $100,000 to the Trump Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee that includes the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee, the Republican Party of Arkansas and the Connecticut Republican Party.
The donations, first reported by the British newspaper The Guardian, were made before the U.S. government halted construction on a segment of Energy Transfer Partners' 1,100-mile (1,770-km) Dakota Access Pipeline in early September following protests by Native American and environmental groups.
The project, which would move oil from the highly productive Bakken shale formation to the Midwest and Gulf Coast, sparked violent clashes between security officers near the construction site and Native American tribe members and other protesters. Opponents have said the project will damage burial sites considered sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and pollute the area's drinking water.
Warren has also given $66,800 to the Republication National Committee since Trump secured the nomination for the Nov. 8 election, The Guardian reported.
Trump has not yet taken a position on the Dakota Access Pipeline, but supports the development of oil and gas and related infrastructure, including pipelines.
Asked about Trump's position on the Dakota Access Pipeline in a policy debate this week, U.S. Representative Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, one of the candidate's main energy advisers, declined to answer, saying he did not want to get ahead of Trump.
He added, "I'm not sure he (Trump) is aware of it."
If elected, Trump in his first 100 days will ask TransCanada to renew its permit application for the Keystone XL Pipeline, according to his campaign website. U.S. President Barack Obama rejected the proposed pipeline from Canada last November.
Trump has holdings in Energy Transfer Partners and Phillips 66, a joint owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline, through mutual funds, according to financial disclosure records.
U.S. oil and gas industry workers have contributed slightly more to Clinton, with employees giving $114,141 to the Democratic candidate and $99,302 to Trump since July, according to a Reuters review of federal campaign finance disclosures.
(Reporting by Liz Hampton and Valerie Volcovici in Washington; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)