March 15, 2022
The Biden administration is preventing South Dakota from putting on a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore for the second year in a row, in a decision harshly criticized by Republican Gov. Kristi Noem.
In a March 14 letter, the National Park Service informed the South Dakota Department of Tourism that a request for a permit to put on the fireworks display was denied. "After careful consideration, the NPS has determined that we are unable to grant your request for this permit to hold a special event with fireworks at the Memorial," the letter stated.
"Based on the information provided in the application, we have determined that multiple such criteria are present for the requested event, each of which would be independently sufficient to deny the request for a permit."
The Park Service said concerns over wildfires and opposition from Native American tribes were the chief factors in its decision. The letter stated that "fireworks are viewed by multiple Tribes as an adverse effect to the traditional cultural landscape" and cited a Tribal Cultural Survey conducted in May 2021 that found there was "ample opposition from the Tribes" to the last fireworks display, which took pace in 2020.
NPS also said a fireworks event "poses threats to the environment and Memorial resources," citing increased levels of perchlorate — a chemical compound used as an oxidizer in fireworks — in the area after the 2020 display. As for the danger of a wildfire, NPS said "current drought conditions and the 2022 wildfire outlook" preclude hosting a fireworks event because it "would cause a high likelihood of a wildfire ignition."
This is the second time the Biden administration has shut down South Dakota's attempt to celebrate Independence Day at Mount Rushmore. The last fireworks celebration at the national landmark was held in 2020, with President Donald Trump in attendance. It was the first time such an event had been held since 2009, when the fireworks were canceled over wildfire concerns.
At the time, Democrats accused Trump of "holding a rally glorifying white supremacy at Mount Rushmore — a region once sacred to tribal communities." Some Sioux leaders are opposed to the monument and have called for the sculptures of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln to be removed from the landscape.
Since coming to power, the Biden administration has twice sided with the tribal communities against the Noem administration's push to bring back the celebrations. After South Dakota's 2021 request to put on fireworks at Mount Rushmore was rejected by the Parks Service because of tribal objections and alleged safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state launched a legal challenge to the agency's decision.
The ongoing litigation over the issue is currently before the United States Eighth Circuit Court.
In a statement, Gov. Noem blasted the NPS decision and accused President Joe Biden of hypocrisy.
“Mount Rushmore is the best place in America to celebrate our nation’s birthday – I just wish President Biden could see that,” Noem said. “Last year, the President hypocritically held a fireworks celebration in Washington, D.C., while denying us our own event. This year, it looks like they are planning to do the same."
“NPS announced this denial less than 24 hours after we reminded the court that this year’s permit application was still pending,” she continued. “Many of the reasons presented for their denial have been previously addressed, indicating that these reasons are not in good faith. We will move forward with our litigation and urge the court to help us come to a speedy resolution.”
SOURCE: Blaze News