South Dakota's Noem asks Biden to reverse ban on Mount Rushmore fireworks display

Governor calls memorial a 'perfect place for a national celebration and fireworks show'

Per Fox News:

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem sent a letter Tuesday requesting that President Biden reverse his administration's ban on an Independence Day fireworks celebration at Mount Rushmore this year, arguing doing so would be in keeping with an agreement the federal government made with her state last year.

"There is a long history of celebrations of American independence at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, including fireworks displays from 1998 to 2009 and again in 2020," she said.

"This year, as we mark our independence from this virus, Mount Rushmore would be a perfect place for a national celebration and fireworks show," Noem added. She pointed to Biden's recent comments aiming to allow small gatherings in a victory against the virus on Independence Day.

The National Parks Service (NPS) notified the state of its decision last month, citing concerns about COVID-19, tribal objections and alleged danger to the park itself. In a letter to the state tourism office, NPS Regional Director Herbert Frost suggested that the 2019 agreement allowed for cancellation if the state could not follow the agreement's resolution to display fireworks in a "safe and responsible manner." Noem objected on Tuesday, arguing the "facts and data tell a very different story."

Last year, the state hosted a display last year that included an appearance from former President Donald Trump, provoking criticism that the state flouted guidance on social distancing during a pandemic. But as Noem noted in her letter, contact tracing was unable to track a single case back to the event.

She also pointed to an NPS Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) signed by Frost and issued last April. In it, NPS outlined guidance for a fireworks event that "does not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment."

Her request came as the nation surpassed more than a year since states started imposing substantial restrictions due to the pandemic, although Noem has refused to impose widespread lockdowns, citing concerns about the impact on South Dakotans' freedoms and the state economy.

On Tuesday, she tweeted a happy birthday message for one of Mount Rushmore's iconic figures, former President Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson, who wrote the seminal document outlining America's reasons for independence, was born on April 13, 1743.

Noem's letter details a series of actions she said her state took to ensure a safe environment, including following items on the National Environmental Policy Act checklist. In order to allow people to enjoy the memorial on July 4, Noem said the celebration would take place on July 3.

"We are committed to hosting a Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration that is safe and responsible and working closely with NPS to do so," the governor said in closing.

"I respectfully ask that you continue that hopeful message you shared earlier this month and uphold our Agreement to host the event this year."

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Governors in Iowa, North Dakota and Alabama join GOP colleagues in banning TikTok for state employees

The Republican governors of three more states have joined the growing number of GOP governors who are banning TikTok among state government employees amid security concerns about the Chinese-owned social media platform

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Arizona Governor Creates Shipping Container Border Wall

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has had hundreds of double-stacked shipping containers topped with razor wire placed on the state’s border with Mexico

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Stacey Abrams’s Georgia Nonprofit Could Face Criminal Investigations for Unlicensed Fundraising

New Georgia Project's charity license has lapsed in at least nine states

1 month, 3 weeks ago

Biden says ‘more important things’ than border visit, despite 59 trips to Delaware, 8 stops for ice cream

Biden has yet to visit southern border despite historic crisis under his watch

1 month, 4 weeks ago

Governor Kristi Noem delivers annual Budget Address, says the state can afford grocery tax cut

In about thirty minutes of remarks, Governor Kristi Noem laid out her administration would like to see nearly $2.2 billion spent over the course of the next fiscal year and a half.

1 month, 4 weeks ago

‘A Clear And Present Danger To Its Users:’ South Carolina Gov. Bans State Employees From Using TikTok Amid National Security Concerns

South Carolina became the second state in the union Monday to permanently ban state employees’ electronic devices from using TikTok amid federal officials sounding the alarm that the Chinese-based social media app threatens national security