Burning Man’s Lawsuit Against the U.S. Government Is Probably Dead

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Photo Credit: Aaron Logan

In February, we reported that Burning Man (via its Black Rock City, LLC parent company) had officially filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior over the escalating cost of land-use permits. Now, with Burning Man having canceled this year’s edition, the federal government has moved to dismiss the legal complaint.

Digital Music News obtained an exclusive copy of the dismissal request, which was submitted to a Washington, D.C., federal court today.

In the filing, the defendants’ legal team doesn’t hesitate to refute the allegations made by Burning Man – namely that the government has levied unfair permit and land-use fees against it, to the tune of $18 million, since 2015.

Burning Man “is not entitled to the relief it seeks,” per the document, because the “APA’s ‘failure to act’ provision is well defined and provides no basis for the claims presented.” Enacted in June of 1946, the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) defines and regulates the way the federal government’s administrative agencies operate and interact with individuals and businesses.

At the time of this writing, Burning Man’s higher-ups hadn’t publicly responded to the dismissal request submitted by the federal government.

Burning Man’s 2020 edition was previously scheduled for September, but organizers were forced to cancel the function in April, owing to the health risks presented by the novel coronavirus. A digital version of Burning Man, which will take place “in the virtual Multiverse,” is being planned, and interested individuals can sign up here.

Owing to the substantial costs associated with preparing Burning Man, the 33-year-old event’s future is uncertain to say the least. Black Rock City’s construction requires year-round work from a full-time team, and the Burning Man Project recently reported that its reserve funding is less than $10 million.

In an attempt to stay afloat, organizers have gone as far as requesting that ticketholders donate the cost of their passes (though refunds were offered to all would-be attendees immediately following the cancellation).