A GOP Governor Is Suing the Biden Administration Because She Can’t Light Off Fireworks

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is big mad.
April 30, 2021, 6:31pm
Fireworks explode above the Mount Rushmore National Monument during an Independence Day event attended by the US president in Keystone, South Dakota, July 3, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is so mad that the Biden administration won’t let her set off fireworks on Mount Rushmore for the Fourth of July that she’s decided to sue.

“Unfortunately, the Biden Administration cancelled our Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration,” the anti-masker and potential GOP 2024 presidential candidate wrote in a tweet on Friday. “So we're suing them to get the fireworks back.”

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The National Parks Service, which has jurisdiction over the Mount Rushmore National Monument through the Department of the Interior, has denied the state permits to host the Independence Day celebration with fireworks due to opposition from the Native American community, risks surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, and potential fire hazards. 

In a March letter, NPS regional director Herbert Frost said it would be neither safe nor wise to host the event, according to the Hill

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

But those reasons just aren’t good enough for Noem to give up on a big pyrotechnics show. 

"Millions visit the Memorial each year. Many of them do so over the Fourth of July weekend, because ‘the significance of Independence Day holds special meaning at Mount Rushmore,’ Noem’s lawsuit reads. "The fireworks show is a crucial, or ‘marquee,’ part of that experience.”

Fireworks were lit on Mount Rushmore during Fourth of July last year for the first time since 2009, in a mask-optional show attended by then-President Trump. The event sparked heavy criticism from local Native Americans and activists, who were arrested for blocking the road leading to the event

The famous U.S. monument is located on land sacred to multiple Native American tribes, making it a great place to celebrate the U.S., apparently.

“Mount Rushmore is the very best place to celebrate America’s birthday,” Noem wrote, “and all that makes our country special.”