12/12/2012 12:11 pm ET Updated Feb 11, 2013

Hickenlooper Says Colorado Won't Sue Longmont Over Fracking Ban, But State Stands Ready To Back Oil And Gas Companies

Most of the legal news about Colorado these days revolves around whether or not the federal government will try to use the courts to prevent the state from implementing its new marijuana law. That's certainly an important story, but arguably just as important is the impending -- and possibly precedent setting -- legal battle here over the future of oil and gas drilling after the city of Longmont voted to ban hydraulic fracturing (aka "fracking") within its boundaries.

That vote wasn't some fluke. Following Pittsburgh's lead, both Republican and Democratic residents in the city voted overwhelmingly to ban the controversial natural gas extraction process after reports from (among others) the Environmental Protection Agency, Duke University, the University of Colorado and the fossil fuel industry itself documented fracking's potential hazards. Yet, despite all of this, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) just announced that his administration will officially back any lawsuit brought by those same firms against Longmont's new law.