WASHINGTON (CNN) - Several House Democrats introduced a bill Wednesday that would impose stricter federal controls and oversight on oil companies and owners and operators of offshore oil rigs along the U.S. coastline.
The Democrats, led by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, said the bill takes many of the recommendations from the national oil spill commission, which investigated the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion of the BP rig killed 11 workers, and released millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf.
The bill would prohibit corporations with poor safety records from bidding on new oil leases along the U.S. coastline, and it would lift all federal liability limits in cases of offshore spills.
"Oil companies need to be worried about financial liability," to deter future safety lapses, Markey said.
The measure would also put in place stricter federal controls and oversight of offshore drilling rigs, including expanded funding for federal agencies, and new standards for blowout preventers. Federal whistleblower protection would be offered to employees who report safety violations to regulators.
Markey, joined by California Democratic Reps. Henry Waxman and George Miller, said the legislation would also set aside 80 percent of the fines levied against BP and its contractors to be used for economic and environmental restoration work in the Gulf. Miller added that the economic effects of the spill are still hurting the fishing and tourism industries in states including Louisiana and Alabama that bordered the spill area. Miller said the negative impact and consumer worries about contamination of fish from the Gulf, "stops them from thriving."
The prospects for the legislation are unclear, however, since House Democrats are now in the minority. A similar bill last year passed the House, but failed to be taken up by the Senate.