Louisiana's junior senator, David Vitter, has been assigned to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, a wide-reaching panel with jurisdiction over the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the upcoming Water Resources Development Act, which could dictate how federal funds are spent on Louisiana river dredging projects.
Vitter, a Republican, and his Democratic counterpart, Sen. Mary Landrieu, partnered last year to pass a federal transportation bill including the "RESTORE Act," which dictates how 80 percent of the Clean Water Act fines from the 2010 Gulf oil disaster will benefit Gulf states. Vitter will again have to partner with Democrats to help get Louisiana interests included in the Water Resources Development Act — Vitter is the committee's top-ranking conservative Republican, rivaling Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who has chaired the committee since 2007.
The committee also has jurisdiction over the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), of which Vitter has been a vocal critic — most recently against former director Lisa Jackson, who announced her intention to resign just before the beginning of the new year. Vitter charged that Jackson, who grew up in New Orleans, resigned because of a personal email account that he said furthered the EPA's "extreme agenda."
"I'm excited about the opportunity to continue my service on each of these committees that have direct impact on issues of vital interest to Louisianans," Vitter said in a statement. "My increasing influence on the Environment and Public Works Committee will be particularly important as I work for critical water and coastal resources for Louisiana while continuing the fight to roll back the stifling EPA regulations that threaten to cripple our energy economy." — ALEX WOODWARD