South Dakota’s Republican Governor Kristi Noem is suing the Biden administration after a request was denied to allow fireworks at Mount Rushmore on Independence Day, apparently over safety concerns.
Noem spokesperson Ian Fury confirmed the lawsuit was filed on Friday after Fox News initially reported it.
“Mount Rushmore is the very best place to celebrate America’s birthday and all that makes our country special,” the suit reads. “We are asking the court to enjoin the Department of Interior’s (DOI) denial of the fireworks permit and order it to issue a permit for the event expeditiously.”
The National Park Services (NPS) denied a request for the celebration last month citing health concerns related to Covid-19, as well as protests from Native American tribes.
“Potential risks to the park itself and to the health and safety of employees and visitors associated with the fireworks demonstration continue to be a concern and are still being evaluated as a result of the 2020 event,” NPS regional director Herbert Frost said when initially denying the request. “In addition, the park’s many tribal partners expressly oppose fireworks at the Memorial.”
Noem dismissed concerns and said officials had not provided a “meaningful explanation” for why the celebration cannot be held. A firework celebration was held last year for the first time since 2009, having previously been nixed due to wildfire concerns. Former President Donald Trump attended the event then, and Noem is accusing the current administration of “reneging” on the “multi-year” agreement to bring the fireworks back.
Noem first announced her intention to file her lawsuit while making a speech this week at the Watertown Rotary Club. She accused the current administration of canceling the event for “political” reasons and said a lawsuit is the only “remedy” she has.
“After telling us they’d ‘circle back,’ the Biden administration has not responded to our request to uphold the Memorandum of Agreement between the State of South Dakota and the National Parks Service to host a safe and responsible national celebration and fireworks show,” Noem tweeted about the lawsuit on Friday.
After telling us they’d “circle back,” the Biden Administration has not responded to our request to uphold the Memorandum of Agreement between the State of South Dakota and the National Parks Service to host a safe and responsible national celebration and fireworks show. (2/)
— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) April 30, 2021
Many criticized the event when Trump attended, noting that some in attendance flouted mask-wearing and social distancing guidelines, but Noem claims contact tracing since then has not been able to find a single Covid-19 case brought on by the gathering.
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