Update: Public Citizen launches preemptive strike against BP collateral plan

As we noted earlier Wednesday, environmental groups are worried about potential White House plans to use money from BP’s future Gulf of Mexico production as collateral for the $20 billion oil spill claims fund.

Now, the liberal group Public Citizen has joined the fray, writing a letter to President Barack Obama that calls on him to “reconsider using revenue from BP’s existing 149 Gulf of Mexico oil and gas wells as collateral for the Oil Spill Victim Compensation Fund.”

“It threatens to inhibit ongoing criminal probes of the company’s probable negligence. A criminal investigation resulting in sanctions imposed against BP — including banning the company from federal leases in the Gulf — will be at odds with the government’s agreement to use BP’s leases as collateral for the Fund,” states the letter Wednesday from Tyson Slocum, who heads the group’s energy program.

The letter also notes BP’s troubled record on environmental and worker safety. “But the administration might be less likely to address those problems if it means the company can’t continue its profitable business-as-usual style,” the letter adds.