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Gov. Noem sues Biden admin over canceling Mt Rushmore July 4th fireworks

Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornets over Mount Rushmore during a Salute to America celebration July 3, 2020. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cody Hendrix)
April 30, 2021

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is suing the Biden administration this week after it canceled the Mount Rushmore Independence Day fireworks display and demands that the court issue a permit “expeditiously” so that the event can occur.

According to a Fox News exclusive report, the Republican governor filed the lawsuit on Friday in U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota Central division.

“Mount Rushmore is the very best place to celebrate America’s birthday and all that makes our country special,” Noem wrote. “After telling us they’d ‘circle back,’ the Biden Administration has not responded to our request to uphold the Memorandum Agreement between the State of South Dakota and the National Parks Service to host a safe and responsible national celebration and fireworks show.”

Noem claimed the new administration “departed from longstanding precedent and reneged on this agreement without any meaningful explanation.”

“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,” she continued.

Last year, the fireworks display at Mount Rushmore took place for the first time since 2009 when it was canceled due to the risk of wildfires. Noem has requested that President Joe Biden uphold a 2019 agreement between the National Parks Service (NPS) and her state, which allowed the event to return in 2020.

In March, the NPS informed South Dakota of the decision to ban the Independence Day fireworks, claiming concerns linked to COVID-19, tribal complaints and alleged danger to the park.

NPS Regional Director Herbert Forst said, “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.”

Frost continued, “In addition, the park’s many tribal partners expressly oppose fireworks at the Memorial.”

Also in March, President Biden said in a speech that Americans may be able to have small gatherings on Independence Day, so long as they social distance, wear masks and get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“If we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together, by July the fourth there’s a good chance you, your families and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout or a barbeque and celebrate Independence Day.”

“That doesn’t mean large events with lots of people together, but it does mean small groups will be able to get together,” he continued, later adding, “July fourth with your loved ones is the goal, but a lot can happen. Conditions can change.”