Clean Water Action describes itself as "a national citizens' organization working for clean and safe water at an affordable cost, control of toxic chemicals, and protection of our nation's natural resources." 1 Created in 1970, the organization's primary activities are in grassroots organizing. The goals of the group are to bring environmental issues home to the average American and to influence environmental policies through the governmental process. As an environmental group, the organization wants to protect the environment. As an interest group, it wants to see people get elected who will be favorable to their interests.
Through the formation, in 1986, of its PAC, Clean Water Action Vote Environment (CWAVE), the organization has succeeded in combining both goals. Clean Water Action's activities are premised on the belief that because governmental officials make environmental policy, the PAC's primary focus should be electing environmentalists. Unlike most PACs in Washington, whose goals are often only the short-term influence with specific legislators, CWAVE has a broader, more long-term goal of influencing policy agendas by gradually filling national, state, and local legislatures with environmentalists.
Clean Water Action's grassroots structure begins in the living rooms of America. Every day, environmental activists, many of whom are students, conduct what they term "field canvasses" across the country. The job of the canvassers is to go