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July 4, 2014

Drought won’t stop fireworks

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Arizona’s largest city has gone four months without any measurable rain, and neighboring New Mexico is in the midst of four years of severe drought.

But you’ll still see and hear fireworks sparkle and pop today.

While some places in the West ban fireworks altogether, or greatly limit what you can light off, other states are going in the opposite direction.

Arizona loosened its restrictions this year and is allowing residents of the two most populated cities to set off fireworks, and an effort by the New Mexico governor to impose tougher rules during dry times has repeatedly fallen on deaf ears.

Some lawmakers chalk it up to statehouse politics, while others say it’s politicians’ reluctance to impose more regulations and take away the cherished tradition of setting off fireworks, even in severe droughts.

In Texas, legislation to give the state fire marshal the power to enforce stricter rules didn’t get far during the last session partly due to the lack of appetite among some lawmakers for imposing more regulations on small businesses.

Some places in the West restrict fireworks heavily. In Utah, more than 50 cities and towns have imposed additional restrictions this year due to the fire danger.

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