Governor John Hickenlooper's state agency the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission ("COGCC"), joined a lawsuit filed by an oil and gas trade association seeking to invalidate Longmont's voter-adopted citywide ban on hydraulic fracturing or "fracking". Some 60 percent of Longmont voters supported the initiative banning fracking within city limits last year. It is the second lawsuit by the state to ban fracking. Sam Schabecker, an organizer with Food and Water Watch, said he saw the move as an about face on the part of Governor Hickenlooper. Governor Hickenlooper on December 6, 2012 said the state would not sue Longmont again over the action of voters, but that it would support any lawsuit by oil and gas companies.
"The COGCC did not initiate the lawsuit, or the process," COGCC director Matt Lepore said through a spokesman. "The state's joinder into the lawsuit was the result of a legal step initiated by Colorado Oil & Gas Association ("COGA"), which asked the court to bring COGCC into its case as a party. That said, the COGCC does believe Longmont's ban on hydraulic fracturing is contrary to state law, and we believe clarity from the courts on this matter is important for all parties." A COGA spokesman said the group does not comment on active litigation.
Fracking continues to be a public relations challenge for Governor Hickenlooper. During last year's heated campaign in Longmont about the anti-fracking ballot initiative, Governor Hickenlooper traveled to Longmont to talk about the proposed ban with oil and gas executives and community members. Protestors gathered urging the Governor to speak with the citizens outside the bank office near the center of the town, but the Governor exited the building moving through the protestors without saying a word before climbing into his vehicle.