The lawsuit, which was filed on Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota Central Division, seeks to get a judge to rule the Department of Interior’s denial of the permit was arbitrary and to overturn it. The defendants in the case are listed as Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz, acting Director of Operations for the National Park Service Shawn Benge, and Herbert Frost, who is the National Park Service director for the Midwest region.
“Mount Rushmore is the very best place to celebrate America’s birthday and all that makes our country special,” said Noem in a statement. “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.”
“Unfortunately, the new administration departed from precedent and reneged on this agreement without any meaningful explanation,” she continued. “We are asking the court to enjoin the Department of Interior’s (DOI) denial of the fireworks permit and order it to issue a permit for the event expeditiously.”
The National Park Service informed Noem last month that it would not permit the firework display, which occurred last year for the first time since 2009, citing COVID-19 concerns, tribal objections, and danger to the park itself.
Frost wrote a letter to the state’s tourism department saying that the park service is “unable to grant a request to have fireworks at the Memorial,” according to a readout obtained by Washington Examiner. He wrote: “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.”
The governor sent a letter to President Joe Biden on April 13, hoping to get him to reverse the decision.