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Senator is tapped for natural resources panel
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District 51 state Sen. Steve Gooch has been named ex-officio of the Senate Natural Resources and the Environment Committee for the upcoming session.

Gooch, a Dahlonega Republican, said in a statement that he considers the appointment "a great privilege."

"We are blessed to have an abundance of natural resources such as the Chattahoochee National Forest, some of the most pristine trout streams in Georgia, the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi and beautiful mountain vistas as far as the eye can see," he said of his district.

"I look forward to shaping public policy that will safeguard these precious resources for years to come."

As a member of the committee, Gooch will work to address energy resources and development issues.

Specifically, he'll look into regulation, conservation and strategic reserves and standards.

He'll also look into public lands and their renewable resources, surface mining, coal, oil, gas, other mineral leasing and water resources.

Gooch will continue to serve as secretary of the Senate Transportation Committee, and as a member of the committees on Economic Development, Government Oversight, State and Local Government Operations and the State Institutions and Property.

"Sen. Gooch has proven to be a strong advocate of Georgia's natural resources, and I am very confident that these qualities will serve him well as an ex-officio member," said District 53 state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga.