House Dems' bill would tighten controls on offshore rigs, companies
The sun sets behind two under construction offshore oil platform rigs in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, June 14, 2010
January 26th, 2011
07:32 PM ET
12 years ago

House Dems' bill would tighten controls on offshore rigs, companies

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.

Filed under: Democrats • House
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Four and The Door

    This could be a good idea if well written and executed responsibly, but Obama would probably never sign it. Ben Stein made a good point on CBS Sunday Morning last week. Will Obama be running in 2012 as a Democrat or a Republican?

    January 26, 2011 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  2. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The party that apologizes to big oil does not gives a rat's behind about those 11 who were killed in gulf explosion. The republicans are so deep in big oil's pockets, they will vote it down. Safety does not matter to the GOP when they fill their Hummers and Lear jets. It is time to end all the republican sweet deals to big oil, and move on to different energy sources.

    January 26, 2011 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  3. Marcus

    Good bill, especially the 80% part, which means that some GOPer 'expert' in economy or environment laws/safety/and other issues will 'exp-lain' to us, poor people who believes in facts and not in what he/she claims that is the truth, why this law is a 'job killing' or 'socialist' one...

    January 26, 2011 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  4. Dave IL

    Yep, let's drive a few more regulatory nails in the coffin of another US industry. Next thing the Dems will propose will be a bailout bill or an unemployment extension to deal with the consequences.

    January 26, 2011 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  5. Patrick from Minnesota

    It's about time.

    January 26, 2011 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  6. duckbutter

    not going to happen.....gas is going up everyday....

    January 26, 2011 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  7. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Oh, poor oil companies. After being given billions in federal subsidies, given millions of acres of land and ocean they don't use, and posting ever increasing profits enough is enough! They can't take it anymore! They are sooo cornered by the burdensome government that has been kissing up to them under every administration for the past entire century. It is time we gave them EVEN MORE subsidies, and reduce regulations even further so that their measly billions in corporate profits can grow to tens of billions.

    January 26, 2011 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  8. Gil

    I saw the heck with Big Oil. We need to protect while using safer standards than in the Gulf last year and in the past when the robber barons of the oil industry have prevailed!

    January 26, 2011 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  9. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    What we need also are more inspectors making more visits that aren't afraid to shut down rigs when they see a problem. It would also help to have oil companies that know they need to put their workers' safety and the environment first and profits second.

    January 26, 2011 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  10. DependingOnAmericanOil

    There is no need to waste time on "new" legislation regarding stricter controls associated with the oil drilling industry: which by the way has lost 150,000 jobs thanks to the moratorium. Doesn't sound like economic recovery to us folks down here in the Gulf. Anyway, there are sufficient control and regulations already in place to include government inspectors and other engineers who are required to physically inspect the platforms before signing off and authorizing the use of the rigs. In the episode of "60 Minutes" where the survivors of the Deep Water Horizon explosion were interviewed, 60 Minutes not only uncovered evidence that workers raised concerns of the degraded blowout preventer, but worse: government inspectors signed off on the platform without inspecting it. Isn't it amazing that this administration directed all the attention and blame on BP (a major foreign contributer to the Democratic Presidential campaign) and didn't even bring into the spotlight the need to hold key government personnel responsible for not ensuring the safety of the platform. I guess you wouldn't want to make the government look bad while you're trying to grow the size of the government, huh.

    The government needs to simply do the same thing that needs to be done also with existing immigration laws: just do your jobs and enforce them so the States won't have to do your jobs for you.

    January 27, 2011 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  11. Cutting Spending?

    "The measure would also put in place stricter federal controls and oversight of offshore drilling rigs, including EXPANDED FUNDING for federal agencies . . ."

    First, we hear in the State of the Union speech the need to cut spending. Now, the Democrats want to introduce legislation that expands funding for federal agencies? Typical, tought talk and spending money we don't have. It's a shame that us regular citizens can't just "spend" money whenever we want even when there is no money in our checking accounts.

    January 27, 2011 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  12. J.V.Hodgson

    This article is misleading! The Oil rig was owned an operated by Transocean, and paid for by BP under a contract to drill. The well was BP's not the oil rig, be preciseand truthful!! The legislation outlined assumes one can "blame" anyone 100%, company Oil field owner drilling operator or Haliburton as safety advisor for repeated safety violations. it is nonsense the oil comapanies are not stupid they have made the way they do business the subject of risk management and that no one part can be sued for the whole consequences.
    the only way to do it is to get it that the oil industry is spreading risk and legislate as follows:-
    1) Responsibility and liability of well owner
    2) Responsibility and liability of rig owner and operator
    3) Responsibility and liabilty of Professional advisors like Haliburton in this case.
    Asking rig employees to say ( whistle blow) this should be shut down is nonsense Once that well dries up any whistle blower knows he is out of and Oil well job forever.

    January 27, 2011 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  13. Chris

    But wait – the Republicans keep telling me that all regulations are unnecessary since corporations always act responsibly and their first priority is the common good. Certainly there has never been a case where the oil industry has been deregulated and it led to wide spread catastrophe – has there?

    January 27, 2011 03:53 am at 3:53 am |
  14. Rob in Det

    sounds good to me!

    January 27, 2011 04:36 am at 4:36 am |
  15. Grand Oil Party

    Like the Republicans would EVER vote against the oil industry. Exploding rigs could kill a hundred men and pollute the ENTIRE ocean and they would still bend over for the oil execs for that cold hard campaign dollar.

    January 27, 2011 04:46 am at 4:46 am |
  16. Bruce

    Yes by all means, lets create more government interference. The House Democrats need to get a grip. The current laws are just fine. There is already plenty of overesight. The way I see it, I blame the government more because they didn't follow up on inspections and do what they were supposed to do to prevent this from happening. those commissions can twist it any way they want and put all the blame on BP but at the end of the day it's the government's fault for not doing their part.

    January 27, 2011 06:45 am at 6:45 am |
  17. DAW, NC

    I am sure that the repugnants will stop the bill, claiming that it will hurt jobs, the economy and development. They will claim that industry should monitor itself, good examples are love canal, gulf oil spill, the recent rash of food poisonings, the back meltdown, etc., but lets forget the past and focus on distorting reality in the name of business and development. In fact lets continue to give them tax breaks and government support to help them abuse the environment and our citizens

    January 27, 2011 08:25 am at 8:25 am |