Fireworks shows need new environmental review
Environmentalists are doing everything in their power to change your behaviors and make life as difficult as possible for business owners and industry. Now, they are coming after our Fourth of July Celebrations.
The Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation filed a suit against the La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation to demand that an environmental review be performed in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Superior Court Judge Linda Quinn ruled this past Friday in favor with the environmental group.
“San Diego issues thousands of these simple park-use permits over the counter with the only consideration being space, just as other cities do across the state,” said City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. “Existing law has never been interpreted to require a CEQA review for this. … This decision opens the door to absurd results. This is the reason appellate courts exist and we plan to ask for their help.”
The future of La Jolla’s event was fuzzy Friday. Organizers likely can’t complete the time-intensive and costly CEQA analysis by July 4, but Robert Howard (representative for the fireworks group) said he would ask the court to allow this year’s event while the case is appealed.
City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, whose district includes La Jolla, said she hoped to find a solution. “We have to strike a balance that protects the environment but also allows our finest traditions to continue,” she said.
Alex Roth, a spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders, framed the suit as part of a “bizarre crusade to stop fireworks. What’s next, a lawsuit against swimmers for polluting the ocean with their suntan lotion?” Roth said.
Marco Gonzalez, a lawyer for the environmental rights foundation, exulted over Friday’s win, which comes after months of criticism against him for challenging an American tradition. “If you were to sum it up with one word, I would say ‘vindication.’ It’s vindication for the environment … and it’s vindication for my client because of the amount of disparaging comments and general negativity that was thrown our way when we were told that our lawsuit was frivolous,” Gonzalez said. “There are a whole host of impacts that we know occur from fireworks shows, from marine mammals to marine birds to water quality to traffic to noise to the air,” Gonzalez said. “We want it studied and we want it mitigated.” Gonzalez has repeatedly said that protecting water quality and coastal species is patriotic.
Tony Manolatos, a spokesman for City Councilman Kevin Faulconer, stood by the council’s exemption for fireworks. “I think banning fireworks on the Fourth of July is un-American,” he said, “and I think the majority of San Diegans would agree.”
I’ve been to plenty of firework shows here in Seattle. Sure, there’s noise (duh!) and traffic (duh!), yet I’ve never seen any dead fish or marine mammals or birds floating around the Puget Sound the day (or days) after the events. But that’s not really the issue, right? It’s ‘vindication’ after all.