State Sen. John Yudichak has been appointed Democratic Chairman of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, Democratic leaders announced Tuesday.

Yudichak, who was sworn in for his first Senate term on January 4, said the committee assignment is an opportunity to protect Pennsylvanians from repeating the mistakes of the past while developing the economy of the future.

"Everyone in Northeastern Pennsylvania knows that we're still suffering with – and paying for – the last energy boom," Yudichak said. "If we learn well and act prudently, we can protect our waterways while growing the job market, and creating new jobs in clean-energy industries."

During his tenure in the House of Representatives, Yudichak sponsored and shepherded passage of the The Waste Tire Act, prompted by a fire at a waste-tire pile in Edwardsville. The law toughens enforcement waste-tire regulations and makes sure owners of waste tile piles are responsible for clean-up.

"We are slowly emerging from one of the worse economic recessions in our history," Yudichak said. "But in our haste to create new jobs and economic activity, we can't run roughshod over the land and water. Future generations should not have to pay for carelessness today."

Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa, (D-Allegheny), said Yudichak brings vision and experience to the committee.

"Senator Yudichak has shown a commitment to environmental protection and careful development of new energy markets," Costa said. "His leadership will help create the new clean-energy economy that can sustain growth without the drastic side effects."

Yudichak was also tapped to serve on the Appropriations committee, a powerful committee that he said will be very critical in the upcoming session.

"Pennsylvania is facing severe revenue shortages," Yudichak said. "It is the Appropriations committee that will have to make some very tough decisions regarding the 2011-2012 state spending plan. I look forward to the challenges of this committee."

Yudichak will also serve on the Aging and Youth, Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness, Policy and Local Government committees.