For all the complaining environmentalists do about how politicians disregard the environment, isn't this a big thing to overlook? If a certain industry SPENDS $180M / year to influence the direction of government, they are very likely to be the change they want to see in the world... I don't agree that lobbyists are 'right' or 'good', but they are. From the most recent issue (011) of Good Magazine, sourcing from OpenSecrets, another favorite site of mine, indicates that Pharmaceuticals / Health Products spent $181,943,247 on lobbyists in 2006 (most recent available data) and have spent well over a billion dollars since 1998.
Uh-oh, this feels like another ends justify the means argument and I think in this case, it might just be. I believe money should not be involved in politics. Here's about $2B worth of revenues that feel otherwise. There are some environmental PACs out there, like Friends of the Earth. Part of what I'm getting at is that, after watching several documentaries and even watching the Daily Show and reading Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, one thing is very clear; the Republican Party is very good at unifying behind a singular message. They're organized and disciplined. It seems to me that this discipline perhaps comes at the cost of individualism and even free thought. That's scary. I'm not advocating a monotone, plodding , lock-step march toward a predetermined goal... or maybe I am. It seems like saving our environment is a worthwhile goal. The singularity of message is what gets the leverage out of media; the Republicans are very smart in that respect, using media to disseminate their consistent message, helping their party members easily understand what the game plan is. 'This is how you should vote. This is what you should think.' I don't agree with the message most of the time, but I do admire the effectiveness of the methodology and I DO consider myself very conservative in some ways. There's something to be learned here.
Bottom line: lobbyists are effective. Can environmentalists afford not to support their own? I don't even think there's a "their own" group -- if you save the environment, you're not able (or inclined) to leave anyone out. There's a free rider problem, then; those who seek only personal gain (you may have heard of manifest destiny...?) and don't care about the costs of their actions to the public or the 'commons' will ride for free on the backs of those who do care. So we're left with what we know and what the market predicts.
Doesn't it stand to reason that the most effective lobbyists play for mercenary rules and will accept changes in their masters based on simple criteria: the highest bidder? If so, isn't a few hundred million dollars a year small potatoes for influence on par with the heaviest hitters in politics? The oil and gas lobby mustered a mere $75M for lobbyists in the same period. Even if twice that much is in play, it seems we ought to be able to justify such an effort on behalf of our future -- our grandchildren's grandchildren? How, then, do we determine which influences this new lobby might seek to affect? Certainly the Sierra Club and Republicans for Environmental Protection would want to steer the new ship...? Who wants to man the helm? What checks and balances are there for this position? Who determines the goals of the PAC? Until we build it, I'm not inclined to think too much more about it -- it hurts my head ;-)