Environmental Concerns

Speech about Environmental Protection Policy

A 1972 speech given by Tower outlining his environmental concerns

This is a typewritten draft of a Tower speech found in a folder containing documents from 1972. Although the speech addresses pollution and other environmental issues broadly, Tower's primary focus is on the role of technology in protecting the environment. Tower frames human intervention as the only concrete solution to human-created problems, particularly mentioning the space program as a source of renewable energy via the construction of solar power-generating satellites. It is unclear whether Tower himself wrote the speech or whether it is the product of his speechwriting team, and it is equally unclear whether the speech was ever actually used. The target audience appears to be fellow Conservatives who might look askance at Tower's fairly Liberal environmental policies. Tower repeatedly emphasizes that he is by no means an iconoclast, and he describes himself as "guilty" of holding progressive views towards environmental spending (Tower 4). With the aid of hindsight the speech seems overly hopeful in some ways; Tower envisions orbiting power stations being the norm within 20 years, while even today solar energy interests still struggle against conventional fuels. Tower also describes the deterioration of the environment as "a problem which knows no political boundaries and recognizes no sanctity in human values" (Tower 1).

Today this statement seems optimistic. Tower's arguments are still being repeated but they have certainly aquired political boundaries. Pope Francis, himself not a politician but still a hugely influential public figure, particularly for the religious Right, recently gave a speech before Congress in which he quoted from his encyclical Laudato Si, a public statement to the Catholic community, in which he wrote "[w]e have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology to devise intelligent ways of developing and limiting our power and to put technology at the service of another type of progress," almost directly echoing Tower 43 years later (Pope Francis). Despite His Holiness' influence, his urgings towards environmental preservation largely fell on deaf ears on the Republican side of the floor. The issues have not changed one iota, but as Conservative rhetoric has shifted over time, there seem to be fewer and fewer Republicans like Tower who are willing to be "guilty" of being interested in protecting the environment. The party's response to the Pope's comments is demonstrated in a Politico article titled "Pope's climate push hits wall in Congress," where Republican member of the Energy and Commerce Committee John Shimkus was quoted as saying "[w]e were honored to have the pope. He's a world leader of the Catholic Church. But he's not an elected member of Congress... I don't think he moves the needle at all" (Restuccia and Goode).