Burning Man event spars with US government over permit

Burning Man event spars with US government over permit
Aaron Logan via Wikimedia Commons

Burning Man event organizers are sparring with the US government over a 10-year permit after being presented with new rules that they say “would spell the end of the event as we know it.”

The Bureau of Land Management issued the draft environmental impact statement to “analyze the potential impacts” of conducting Burning Man, an arts and community event, from 2019 to 2028 in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

An environmental impact statement is a process the federal government uses to analyze how construction, events or other activities could affect the natural landscape. Companies and organizers of events looking to do work on federal land often have to comply with regulations set out in an environmental impact statement in order to move forward with their plans.

Burning Man event organizers took issue with proposed requirements that came in a more-than-150-page report and fired back in a post on their website, writing, “The proposed level of government surveillance of and involvement in our everyday operations is unprecedented and unwarranted, and is unsupported by the … analysis.”

Burning Man said the statement requires “astronomical cost increases” and “beyond-excessive government oversight,” and proposes to “increase federal government agency operations exponentially in order to take over or ‘monitor’ our operations.”

The organizers said security operations, how many cars are allowed into the event, how people are tracked while there and how lighting is used would all be affected by the proposed rules. That could hurt tickets sales, they said.

“BLM measures would insert BLM agents into Burning Man Project pre-event and post-event operations on site, when our teams are building and removing infrastructure and performing playa restoration,” organizers write, referring to their cleanup process.

Organizers called on the event’s attendees — who are dubbed “Burners” — and others to “provide substantive comments” to the government, “challenging these proposed requirements on their merits.”

“By law, these comments must be taken into consideration by the BLM in their drafting of the (final rules), which directly affects the future of our event,” they write.