As business and environmental groups attempt to influence
government environmental decisions, only one side consistently comes out on
You don�t have to dig too deep into campaign contributions
to see who hands over more money to candidates and both major political
parties. Oil and gas companies hand over millions more dollars to special
interest groups and presidential campaigns than do environmental organizations.
And their investments pay off quite well. Rarely is there an environmental
victory that comes out of Washington. On contrary, big oil companies win time
and again. Certainly there are not many policy wonks that keep an eye on
Washington who would deny that campaign contributions influence public policy.
This may well be the ill fate of the environmental movement
-- attempting to play ball with the big boys in Washington. Will they ever be
on par with the likes of Enron or others who virtually write our environmental
and energy legislation year after year?
It has long been my belief that the Sierra Club and rest of
the big environmental groups, along with the Democratic Party itself, that do
the most harm to environmentalism. It�s not the Republicans. If anything, the
Republicans have been the best mobilizers of environmentalists by rallying
people against their policies, even though many of the same policies were
present during Democratic administrations.
As these groups consistently pander to the Democratic Party,
they simultaneously refuse to hold the Dems feet to fire despite their gross
inadequacies. During the 1990s, President Clinton passed the Salvage Rider bill
as well as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), both of which
blatantly undermined environmental policies in the US and set the stage for
Bush�s own forest plan and trade platform. Nary a word was said by
environmental groups about such egregious legislation that was proposed during
Clinton-time, -- but all were up in arms over Bush�s plans. And why is that?
As the Democrats have let the Sierra Club and others through
their front chamber doors, they have effectively slammed their ideals behind
them, holding these groups hostage inside a corrupt political system.
Environmentalism has consequently become less about action and more about DC
power plays. Could you ever imagine any big enviro group turning their back on
a Democratic candidate, despite the candidate�s actual environmental record?
Lesser-evil politics always prevails.
And this is why the Republican anti-environmental policy
initiatives are most successful. Not only are they pampered (along with the
Democrats) by big industry; they also face little in the way of opposition from
their Democratic counterparts. And it is not just about big money. Certainly the big gas and oil companies can
hand out more loot than environmentalists � that�s not even an issue � but they
can also play the political game better and always have. Environmentalists find
few, if any, allies in Washington. This isn�t just because they aren�t donating
enough cash or endorsing the right candidates -- all the candidates are the
wrong candidates. Period.
Environmental politics should be about principle. It should
be about who can bring about the greatest change. Politics in Washington is so
utterly corrupt that environmentalists would do better by turning their backs
on the parties and sleaze that consistently go against their interests.
That is why public participation in drawing up environmental
legislation fails so dramatically and so often. It isn�t the public that the
two big parties have in mind; it�s the industries that fatten their campaign
In Oregon 22,000 public comments were submitted to the US
Forest Service about the proposed logging of Biscuit National Forest last year.
Even though the anti-logging comments far outnumbered the pro-logging comments,
you know who won outright. It wasn�t the public. And who is going to hold these
folks accountable? Surely not the Democrats who supported the legislation, two
of whom (Senators Wyden and Feinstein) actually rewrote it for President Bush,
along with Mark Rey who wrote Clinton�s brutal Salvage Rider.
The Sierra Club, who so gallantly and emphatically endorse
candidates every election season, will still prop up the Democrats as the least
worst of the two parties in Washington. And until they break down the stodgy
gates that entrap them in Washington, environmental policy will continue to be
manipulated by big business.
When will Democratic leaders begin to heed the advice of
environmentalists, if environmentalists support them sans specific demands?
When will they listen if environmentalists support them just because they
aren�t Republicans? As long as the big environmental groups in Washington go
along as they have for the past two decades, nothing will ever really be
accomplished environmentally in Washington, no matter how much money any of the
enviros hand over to the Democratic machine.
Frank is the author of "Left Out!" and edits the
radical news blog BrickBurner.org.