DENVER
02/04/2011 12:54 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Colorado Oil And Gas Association Drops Lawsuit Over Drilling Rules

The trade group representing oil and natural gas drillers in Colorado announced on Thursday that it was dropping a lawsuit over the state's environmental regulations.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) filed suit against the state of Colorado in May, 2009 after then-Governor Bill Ritter signed House Bill 1292 into law. The law, which Ritter championed, directed the Colorado Oil And Gas Conservation Commission to give higher priority to air and water quality, wildlife habitat and public safety in issuing drilling permits.

At the time, the COGA called the rules "the most costly and burdensome" regulations in the country.

On Thursday, the COGA released a joint statement with the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, announced that it was dropping the suit after talking with members of Governor Hickenlooper's new administration.

"We are confident that going forward we will have a place at the table and our concerns will be fairly considered," Tisha Conoly, Pesident and CEO of the COGA said in the statement.

On the campaign trail, Hickenlooper actively courted the industry in an effort to portray himself as a pro-business Democrat.

In March, Hickenlooper openly slammed the regulations, in part faulting Ritter for the "flawed" process by which the regulations were adopted.

His characterization of the regulations drew a stern response from Ritter, as well as rebukes from some environmentalists.

In a New York Times profile of Hickenlooper the former oil industry geologist was elected Governor, he said "We should drill the living daylights out of natural gas and cut regulation."

A spokesman later explained that the comment was "a clumsy reiteration of what he consistently said on the campaign trail," and "regulations that are necessary for protecting public health and the environment have to be upheld."

On Thursday, the Governor applauded the COGA's announcement as the dawn of a new era in the politics of oil and gas in Colorado.

"This heralds what we hope will be a new era of collaboration and predictability in the development of our energy resources," Hickenlooper said on Thursday of the GOGA's decision to drop its suit. "It's important to get beyond old fights and move ahead to develop Colorado's abundant natural gas and protect our environment at the same time."

Republicans in the state legislature, meanwhile, are not giving up the fight to overturn or weaken the regulations, which they continue to insist are overly burdensome. However, leaders on the issue have backed off of campaign promises to overturn the law outright, citing the political realities of a split legislature.