South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem promised to appeal a court ruling Wednesday that upheld the Biden administration’s decision to cancel Fourth of July fireworks at Mount Rushmore, hoping to be able to stage the event in 2022.
“The Biden Administration canceled South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration on completely arbitrary grounds,” Noem said in a statement following the decision. “I am disappointed that the court gave cover to this unlawful action with today’s decision.
“But rest assured, this fight is not over,” she added.
Fireworks were reintroduced at the federal landmark for the first time since 2009 last year under Donald Trump, but the National Park Service (NPS) denied Noem’s permit request earlier this year.
Noem filed a suit challenging the NPS decision, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.”
Judge Roberto A. Lange ruled Wednesday that the “Court is not called upon to determine whether such a fireworks display is a good idea,” reported a local news outlet.
The District Court argued that “this Court cannot say that NPS’s decision was arbitrary and capricious under (law)” and pointed to the reasons given by the federal agency in its decision to deny the permit.
The NPS cited health reasons relating to the coronavirus, wildfire risks, environmental concerns, and ongoing construction at the national monument, which is not set to be concluded by the Fourth of July.
“This Court fully understands the State’s position and why this suit was brought, but under governing law, the State is unlikely to succeed on the merits of its claims and has not met the requirements for the sort of mandatory injunction or writ of mandamus sought,” Lange surmised.
“Ultimately, there are strong arguments in both directions as to the balance of harms, and the public interest in the short-term appears to lie with having the fireworks display, whereas more long-term interests militate against it at least for this year,” he added.
Noem said her legal team would take up an appeal for next year’s Independence Day celebrations.