LDEQ to award LDAF funds to replace wildfire equipment

Mar 20, 2024

BATON ROUGE, LA –The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) will be awarding the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) a check for $407,905.93 from the Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Settlement Fund on March 20th at the LDAF office on Florida Boulevard in Baton Rouge. The funding will be used to replace wildfire suppression equipment that was damaged during the 2023 wildfires.

LDEQ Secretary Aurelia S. Giacometto is pleased to get these funds to LDAF and the Secretary emphasized the importance of agencies working together to help Louisiana. “While the specific tasks may differ, the end goal for LDAF and LDEQ is to protect the welfare and safety of the people of Louisiana. Wildfires impact every aspect of the environment, including releasing toxins into the air. This equipment is vital to the LDAF’s mission, and we are pleased to support them.”

LDAF was on the front lines during a statewide emergency in the summer of 2023, fighting unprecedented wildfires that the state had never seen.

Being proactive is crucial in Louisiana and having the proper equipment helps prepare the state for any natural disaster. “I appreciate Secretary Giacometto for making these needed funds available to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry for wildland firefighting equipment,” LDAF Commissioner Mike Strain, DVM said. “These dollars will go a long way in our large-scale firefighting operations.”

The Volkswagen Mitigation Trust Settlement Fund is a disbursement program that was enacted after Volkswagen pled guilty to charges that they installed defective software in their vehicle models from 2009-2016 which circumvented Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions standards. This posed a great risk to the quality of Louisiana air. Volkswagen was required to pay $2.9 billion into an environmental mitigation trust fund to be shared among the states and tribes, including $19 million in Louisiana. The money is to be used to offset the excess air pollution caused by VW’s actions. LDEQ was tasked as the lead agency to disburse the funds in Louisiana.

For more information on the VW Settlement, go to https://deq.louisiana.gov/page/louisiana-volkswagen-environmental-mitigation-trust.