Kristi Noem Sues Biden Administration Over Mount Rushmore Fireworks Cancelation

(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem filed a lawsuit Friday against the federal government in hopes of reinstating the Mount Rushmore July 4 fireworks celebration.

South Dakota is asking a federal judge to grant a permit for the celebration. The National Park Service denied South Dakota’s request to host the annual fireworks celebration on March 13, citing “potential risks to the park itself and to the health and safety of employees and visitors associated with the fireworks demonstration.”

The lawsuit, filed Friday in a South Dakota District Court, claims that the Department of the Interior violated “a memorandum of understanding to continue the traditional fireworks show in 2020 and the years thereafter.” The Department of the Interior’s explanation of its decision to cancel the show was “inconsistent with its own regulations, contradicted by the administrative record, and made no attempt to justify DOI’s abrupt aboutface after its approval of last year’s event,” the suit said.

South Dakota argued that the decision was “an arbitrary and capricious agency action” that violates the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The APA regulates executive agency rule-making and regulations.

Mount Rushmore hosted a July 4 fireworks display in 2020 for the first time since 2009, according to The Hill. Previous shows had been canceled due to wildfire risks.

Noem sent letters to Republican South Dakota Sens. Mike Rounds, John Thune and Rep. Dusty Johnson in March to request their help in keeping the fireworks show. (RELATED: Gov. Kristi Noem Says She Will Continue To Fight For July 4th Fireworks At Mount Rushmore As Biden Admin Denied Request)

“Mount Rushmore is the very best place to celebrate America’s birthday and all that makes our country special,” Noem said in a press release. “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 (NPS) to host a safe and responsible national celebration and fireworks show.”