New Permit Ignites Fireworks Kerfuffle

Jim Luksic
By Jim Luksic
July 1, 2023US News
New Permit Ignites Fireworks Kerfuffle
The 46th annual Macy's 4th of July Fireworks over the East River, seen from the 91st floor of the SUMMIT One Vanderbilt observation experience, on July 4, 2022. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images)

California is among those states with new regulations that could turn Fourth of July fireworks shows into duds or extinguish them.

With an eye toward protecting the Southern California coast from pollution, litter, and potential fire-related accidents, Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation (CERF) activists have continued to spark controversy along Los Angeles County’s coastline on the precipice of America’s Independence Day.

Environmental and climate protectors specifically targeted Long Beach’s Big Bang on the Bay with a federal lawsuit, claiming The Boathouse on the Bay and restaurateur John Morris pollute Alamitos Bay with debris—thus violating the Clean Water Act—during its annual July fireworks event.

District Court Judge Mark C. Scarsi ruled in favor of Big Bang, citing that CERF failed to provide sufficient evidence that Big Bang on the Bay had polluted the waters.

Morris wasn’t surprised by the favorable verdict, because he asserted that his business spends thousands of dollars each year to be in compliance and is conscientious about its Monday, July 3, show.

“We do water testing that costs $10,000 using a robo-camera to check for debris,” Morris told NTD on Friday. “Our fireworks are biodegradable.”

Even so, the protestors’ legal action propelled the L.A. Regional Water Quality Control Board to adopt in May the protective fireworks display permit, calling for vendors and other fireworks enthusiasts to strive for decreasing pollution around the coast and Pacific Ocean.

Morris called CERF’s ongoing litigation “mind-boggling” and said, “It’s definitely costing the charity more money,” in reference to the Long Beach nonprofit and Big Bang’s main beneficiary. This year, however, Morris’s business—operated by Naples Restaurant Group—is giving to 15 smaller charities.

Despite the red-tape distractions, Morris estimated a crowd of 100,000 is expected to attend Monday’s fireworks celebration.

NTD also reached out to CERF for comment on Friday; a spokesperson at the group’s office said nobody was available for comment, while an automated email reply stated: “Your message to [email protected] has been blocked.”

Although many businesses and vendors in Los Angeles and Ventura counties will comply with the new regulations for fireworks displays, some have balked and canceled their Fourth of July celebrations.

Pyro Spectaculars by Souza, which sets up shop in Rialto, has refused to procure the permit required by the Los Angeles water board. As a result, Redondo Beach has scrapped its decades-long tradition of holiday fireworks shows over King Harbor.

In June 2022, law enforcement officials in Los Angeles County seized 14,000 pounds of illegal fireworks in Azusa, according to District Attorney George Gascon.

Outside of the United States, similar holiday-related controversies have been ignited by safety and environmental concerns.

North of the border, in a petition brought forth in May, the advocacy organization Common Sense Calgary asked for “an end to this nonsense” in the hope of bringing fireworks back. The City of Calgary had announced the 2023 Canada Day gala would proceed without traditional fireworks.

In addition, Beijing and the Galapagos Islands have also mandated restrictions on selling and setting off fireworks.

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