Overnight Energy & Environment

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: National Park Service rejects request for July 4 fireworks at Mount Rushmore | Park Service says ranger who stunned Indigenous man acted ‘consistent with agency policy’ 

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The National Park Service (NPS) has denied a request from the state of South Dakota to hold a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore to celebrate the Fourth of July this year. 

NPS Regional Director Herbert Frost wrote in a letter to the head of the state’s tourism department that NPS is “unable to grant a request to have fireworks at the Memorial.”

“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,” Frost wrote. “In addition, the park’s many tribal partners expressly oppose fireworks at the Memorial.

“These factors, compiled with the COVID-19 pandemic, do not allow a safe and responsible fireworks display to be held at this site,” he added. 

Last time around: Last year fireworks returned to Mount Rushmore for an Independence Day celebration for the first time since 2009. They had previously been canceled due to wildfire risks. 

At the time of last year’s event, former President Trump gave a speech and social distancing and mask wearing were not enforced. 

And the news got some backlash: Ian Fury, a spokesperson for South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R), told The Hill in an email that the governor “is going to do everything in her ability to ensure that we can celebrate America’s birthday with fireworks at Mount Rushmore.”

Fury pointed to President Biden’s remarks on Thursday in which the president said that by July 4, there is a “good chance” people can gather with family and friends. 

“The best place in America to hold such a special celebration would be Mount Rushmore, fireworks included,” the spokesperson said.

Read more about the decision here.


RESULTS OF THE PROBE: Park Service says ranger who stunned Indigenous man acted ‘consistent with agency policy’

The National Park Service (NPS) has determined that a park ranger who was seen in a now-viral video shocking a Native American man with a stun gun acted in a manner “consistent with agency policy and appropriate given the totality of the circumstances.”

The agency’s side of the story: A Friday statement from NPS said that an internal affairs investigation found that before the officer used the stun gun, he tried to resolve the situation with a warning and made “repeated attempts to deescalate the interaction.”

The agency said that the ranger made contact after spotting two people off the trail on rocks containing petroglyphs, or rock carvings, at Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico.

Multiple outlets have identified the man who was shocked with the stun gun as Darrell House. House posted a video of the incident on Instagram. 

What he said then: “This could have been a civil interaction. The law doesn’t work for the Indigenous. The government doesn’t give a shit about us. This was uncalled for. You see I’m clearly on the trail. I explained my reason for being off trail (which I shouldn’t have too.) If anyone has the right to be off trail and wonder this land, it’s the NATIVE INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY!” House said in his post from December. 

And when asked for his reaction? House posted on his Instagram story that his reaction is the middle finger emoji. 

Read more about what NPS determined here.


ALMOST ACROSS THE FINISH: A vote to confirm Deb Haaland as the Interior Secretary is slated for Monday afternoon. She’s expected to be confirmed, with limited GOP support. 




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  • The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on protecting the financial system from climate risks



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Tags Deb Haaland Donald Trump Environment of the United States Joe Biden Kristi Noem Mount Rushmore National Park Service

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