SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem and the state of South Dakota are suing the federal government to renew the annual fireworks show at Mount Rushmore. Noem filed the lawsuit in federal court with the help of her general counsel in Pierre and a Washington D.C. law firm.
The lawsuit names the Secretary of the Interior, an Assistant Secretary of the Interior, the acting Director and Deputy Director of Operations at the National Park Service, and the Director of the Midwest Region of the Park Service.
The lawsuit cites the April 13th letter Noem sent to President Biden , in which Noem says “we are committed to hosting a Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration that is safe and responsible.” It also says the fireworks show which ran from 1998 until 2009 spurred a substantial increase in visitors to the monument and South Dakota.
The shows were canceled in 2009 because the fire danger caused by the pine beetle infestation. Also contamination was later found in the water supply and linked the chemicals used in fireworks.
The Washington D.C. Law firm listed on the lawsuit is Consovoy McCarthy.
The head of the firm served as one of former President Trump’s private attorneys. On the firm’s website, it says “…we regularly represent state and local governments before the Supreme Court of the United States”
South Dakota taxpayers will foot the bill for the outside counsel. The money will come from what is called the Extraordinary Litigation fund. It was set up by the legislature in 2004 to pay for plaintiff attorney fees, settlement costs and other litigation expenses, as needed by the state. The lawsuit asks for relief in the form of judgments or a preliminary injunction which would invalidate the denial of the state’s permit for the fireworks.
We reached out to The Mount Rushmore Society to see where its members stand on the issue. The group has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and plays an important role in funding improvements at the monument.
“At this time, we, the Mount Rushmore Society, do not have a position on the decision of holding a fireworks display in 2021. It is a complicated event and difficult to predict the development of fire conditions and other factors without being fully briefed.”