Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, is the new ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water.

That gives him added power to seek funding for Utah water and energy projects. He said he will use that, for example, to continue to push for completion of the Central Utah Project, designed to bring water from eastern Utah to the Wasatch Front, and cleanup of the Atlas uranium tailings site near Moab.

"As a senator from the West, I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to fund energy and water projects that are crucial for not only the Western states, but our country as a whole," Bennett said.

The slot will also be important as Congress debates energy policy and natural resource development.

"Establishing a long-term energy policy must be one of the top priorities of this Congress. We must work toward funding groundbreaking energy initiatives to position America as the world leader in energy production," he said.

Bennett replaces recently retired Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., as the ranking Republican on the subcommittee. To obtain that spot, Bennett gave up his position as ranking Republican on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture.

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Bennett this week also picked up membership on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. "Ensuring our troops receive the tools and resources they need to be successful must be a top priority," he said.

Congress has two main types of committees: authorization committees that determine policy and limits of spending, and appropriations committees that slice up the available budget pie and approve actual spending. Bennett is the only Utah member of Congress on an appropriations committee.