Green Movement Calls Fireworks 'Eco-Hazards,' Sues to Ban July 4th Display in California

Apparently the "rockets' red glare" isn't "green" enough for some environmentalists.

Fourth of July fireworks displays have been deemed "ecologically hazardous" by some eco-warriors, who are urging environmentally-conscious Americans to shun the tradition.

[F]ireworks shows spray out a toxic concoction that rains down quietly into lakes, rivers and bays throughout the country," wrote the Mother Nature Network's Russell McLendon on June 30. "Many of the chemicals in fireworks are also persistent in the environment, meaning they stubbornly sit there instead of breaking down."

McLendon suggested avoiding fireworks and finding other ways to celebrate Independence Day. "The most eco-friendly alternative to fireworks is to forgo explosions altogether - go to a parade, go fishing, grill out, or help out," he wrote.

According to the writer, those stubborn traditionalists who insist on seeing "the sky festively illuminated" can always "try a laser light show" - which McLendon says is the eco-friendly - albeit, lame - way to celebrate the Fourth.

The Mother Nature Network is an environmental news service that covers "the broadest scope of environmental and social responsibility issues on the internet." It was founded in 2008 by Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell. Its advisory board includes former Weather Channel star Heidi Cullen and Barbara Pyle, the co-creator and producer of the eco-cartoon "Captain Planet and the Planeteers."

But while McLendon's Mother Nature article simply recommends that people opt out of fireworks celebrations, one environmental group in California is taking a more heavy-handed approach.

The Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation is suing the city of La Jolla, CA to stop its fireworks display, claiming that the Independence Day tradition is perilous to the area's sensitive maritime resources.

"The entire shoreline in La Jolla per the La Jolla community plan is a sensitive resource. It's highly protected," Marco Gonzalez, an attorney for the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation, told News10. Gonzalez's group launched its suit against the city on June 25.

According to the organization's lawsuit, the city of La Jolla did not apply for a Coastal Development permit or comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, two steps the group says are legally necessary before the city can host a fireworks display.

The foundation also alleged that the ecological impacts of the Fourth of July show, including traffic and the pollutants from firework debris entering the region's coastal resources, have not been considered in an environmental review.

The environmental group's suit will be heard on Wednesday, but another organization called the La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation says it is battling to keep the annual city fireworks show going forward.

"The 4th of July celebrates our country's freedoms, and we intend to vigorously defend those freedoms here," said the La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation on its website.

The Fireworks advocacy group insisted that the show will go on, in spite of the lawsuit.

"The City of San Diego has issued us the necessary permits to continue the fireworks display and we intend to continue with the event," said the statement on the organization's website.

Fireworks displays are just the latest great American tradition to get caught in the cross-hairs of the environmental "green" movement, joining the long-despised hamburgers, SUVs, and indoor air conditioning.