J. Bennett Johnston
J. Bennett Johnston served four terms in the US Senate representing the State of Louisiana as a Democrat. He held numerous leadership positions during his tenure. He served as a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources from its creation and as its Chairman and Ranking Member for much of that time.
He was either directly or indirectly responsible for all energy legislation considered by Congress between 1973 and 1996. He proposed and passed the first electricity restructuring legislation as part of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, which also contained extensive provisions regarding natural gas and re-wrote the nuclear licensing provisions of federal law. Mr. Johnston was the principal sponsor of natural gas deregulation, as well as the Royalty Relief Act.
He was the floor manager of literally hundreds of bills, including California Central Valley water reform and the Tongass timber reform bills. In addition to energy policy, his position on this committee provided Mr. Johnston with an oversight role on the operations of federal lands and the territories of the United States.
The National Journal article "Power Broker," named Senator Johnston “the man to see on all matters involving energy policy.”
Senator Johnston acted as the chairman of the full Appropriations Committee, as well as the Defense Subcommittee, when Chairman John Stennis was indisposed, and as Chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee for Senator Robert Byrd when he was the Majority Leader. He was also a member of the Senate Budget Committee, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, and Chairman and Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water Development. He served for many years on the Appropriations Subcommittees of HUD and Independent Agencies, as well as the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, and Defense.
His career in the Senate produced a formidable list of legislative triumphs, including measures to provide navigation, flood control, hurricane protection, and other infrastructure projects critical to Louisiana's future, and he played a significant role in the federal recognition of several Louisiana Indian Tribes. He successfully concluded a five-year battle to pass the Deep Water Royalty Relief Act, a measure which has spurred a dramatic increase in deep water oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, just before his retirement from the United States Senate in 1997.
Since his departure from the Senate, the Senator has remained actively involved in energy and other matters on behalf of numerous multinational corporations and other interests. He has served on the boards of Chevron, Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold, URS, and Columbia Energy Group.