The fate of San Diego's 4th of July fireworks displays -- cast into doubt by a Superior Court ruling last week -- is now under a nationwide spotlight.
Mayor Jerry Sanders aired his concerns and legal grievances in a Fox News Channel interview Tuesday.
The upshot of the ruling is that environmental impact reports are required for over-the-water fireworks and all kinds of other public park uses. It got wide distribution via the online Drudge Report.
When Fox News picked up on the story, the mayor spoke to a far-flung Court of Public Opinion.
"This just doesn't make any sense at all," Sanders said at one point. "It's an abuse of the laws that turns this into some type of sham."
A key point that emerged during Sanders' few minutes on camera is that the ruling has potential ramifications for every city that allows fireworks displays over bodies of water.
"You could see it going to New York, Washington D.C.," Sanders noted in an interview following his cable-news appearance.
The ruling was issued in a challenge of the La Jolla Community Fireworks Foundation's July 4th event by the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation.
At issue was a recent City Council ordinance involving special-event permits that the judge found "discretionary," and thus subject to the California Environmental Quality Act.
The La Jolla fireworks organizers say they don't have the time or money for an environmental study that could cost in the tens of thousands of dollars and take months to complete.
Ditto for other pyrotechnic show sponsors.
A notice of appeal is being filed, and the judge will be asked for a temporary stay of the ruling.
"This has boiled down into a fight over procedure now, not over the merits of the science," said Robert Howard, the La Jolla noprofit group's attorney. "We're comfortable with the science. EPA (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) has never come out and said fireworks are an issue -- anywhere across the country."
In a brief telephone interview, the attorney for the Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation, Marco Gonzalez, said he didn't have the time or inclination to respond to "the nonsense the city's putting out", and will focus his energy on the court case.