Gov. Noem: Biden Again Banning July 4 Fireworks at Mount Rushmore Fireworks explode above the Mount Rushmore National Monument during an Independence Day event in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, 2020. (Saul Loeb/Getty Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Tuesday, 28 June 2022 09:46 AM
Gov. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said the Biden administration again will prevent South Dakota from celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks at Mount Rushmore.
After the administration rejected Noem's permit request for fireworks last year, the state in September applied to hold fireworks at the national memorial this year. The request was denied.
"We are not going to be able to host those fireworks this year at Mount Rushmore. I am suing [President] Joe Biden and the White House over not allowing us to move forward with that. The fact is that they're violating federal law by not letting South Dakota celebrate our independence over that great monument," Noem said on "The Chad Prather Show."
"One of the reasons that they are doing that, I think, is specific to punishing South Dakota, but they claim lots of other reasons but they're ignoring federal law by denying us that permit."
Noem added that the state's tourism business, South Dakota's second largest industry, will suffer because of the administration's decision.
"It's a big opportunity for us every year to market or state, and get a lot of visitors to come in and see Mount Rushmore and all the other beautiful parts of the country that we have," Noem said. "By denying us that, it's not only important for our country to recognize those leaders and our independence. It's also important for our economy, too."
Under former President Donald Trump in 2020, fireworks were held at the popular national memorial for the first time since 2009.
The National Park Service (NPS) — citing the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfire risks, opposition from tribal partners, environmental concerns, and ongoing construction at the federal landmark — denied Noem's permit request for 2021.
NPS in March denied Noem's permit application for 2022 fireworks, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported.
The state's permit application was submitted through the South Dakota Department of Tourism and requested a "special event" to occur at Mount Rushmore from between June 15 to July 10, according to the rejection letter.
"Fireworks are viewed by multiple Tribes as an adverse effect to the traditional cultural landscape," the letter read, the Argus Leader reported.
The NPS letter also cited conflicting schedules, as the agency plans to host a "patriotic Independence Day celebration in 2022," unreasonable interference with visitor services – basically, the closing to the public of the Memorial and possible damages to the park because of the increased fire threat, according to the newspaper.