By Richard Simon
7:00 AM EST, November 14, 2013
WASHINGTON — Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) on Wednesday was named chairman of a House Appropriations subcommittee, boosting California’s clout in Congress even if his position comes in an era of belt-tightening.
In wielding the gavel of the Interior and Environment subcommittee, Calvert will oversee the budgets of the Environmental Protection Agency, national parks, forests and wildlife refuges, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among other agencies.
He takes over the panel at a time when lawmakers can no longer earmark funds for their pet projects and his GOP colleagues have pushed hard to reduce Washington’s red ink.
Still, the chairmanship positions Calvert – the only Californian to head a House Appropriations subcommittee – to influence spending decisions, including shaping policies related to environmental regulation and perhaps softening the blow of spending cuts on California. (One of the state’s senators, Dianne Feinstein, chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee overseeing energy and water programs.)
Calvert, a 20-year House veteran, said that among his priorities would be increasing domestic energy production, water policy and the "adequate resources to reduce the risk of wildfires."
"The continued growth of mandatory spending programs, combined with the effects of sequestration, makes it absolutely critical that we take a close look at every dollar we spend on discretionary programs," he said in a statement.
He expressed concern about efforts in the Interior Department and EPA to "impose unnecessary regulatory red tape that will thwart our energy production and other sectors of our economy."
The chairmanship opened up after the death of one subcommittee chairman and the retirement of another, which led to openings and a reshuffling of congressional positions.
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