Soldiers from the North Dakota National Guard have been called up to support local law enforcement officials amid protests over the Dakota Access pipeline.

About two dozen soldiers are moving into place now, while an additional 100 soldiers are on standby and ready to respond if needed, said Air Force Maj. Amber Balken, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota Guard.

Most of the troops are from the 191st Military Police Company, which has its headquarters in Fargo, North Dakota.

The Dakota Access pipeline is a $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile project that would carry nearly a half million barrels of crude oil daily from North Dakota's oil fields through South Dakota and Iowa to an existing pipeline in Patoka, Illinois, where shippers can access Midwest and Gulf Coast markets, according to the Associated Press.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe has filed a lawsuit challenging federal permits for the project, alleging that the pipeline, which would be less than a mile upstream of the reservation, could impact drinking water for more than 8,000 tribal members and millions who rely on it downstream, the AP reported.

A federal judge has said he'll rule by Friday on the lawsuit. Meanwhile, there have been skirmishes between protesters and private security guards on private land, where the tribe says construction has disturbed ancient sacred sites, according to the AP.

The two dozen or so Guard soldiers who've been called up so far from the 191st MP Company will help provide security at a traffic checkpoint near the protest site. The other 100 will remain on standby.

Balken emphasized that the Guard is merely providing administrative support and assistance to local law enforcement officials. The soldiers will not be going to the actual protest site, officials said.

The battle over the Dakota Access pipeline has simmered for months and could come to a head with the judge's ruling Friday.

Since April, a nonviolent tribal protest by mostly members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe has been set up at a "spirit camp" at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri rivers in the path of the pipeline, according to the Associated Press.

The protest has grown considerably since, as other American Indians and non-Native Americans from across the country have joined them, including "Divergent" actress Shailene Woodley and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein.

The protest also has become heated, with nearly 40 arrested, including Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault II, according to the AP.