Top 7 Environmental Priorities Will Be Named in Lansing Speech Feb. 3

MIDLAND – The Mackinac Center for Public Policy has hired the former director of Michigan’s environmental agency to be senior environmental policy analyst for the Midland-based institute.

Harding will research environmental conditions in Michigan and recommend policies that foster environmental protection based on sound science and respect for citizens’ property rights. He was a member of Gov. John Engler’s cabinet for eight years as head of the state Department of Environmental Quality, created by Engler in 1995.

Harding’s first Mackinac Center speech on Feb. 3 will address facts and myths surrounding the seven environmental issues that should receive the highest priority from state policy makers. The speech is part of the Mackinac Center’s Issues and Ideas series scheduled for noon in the Mackinac Room of the House Office Building at 124 N. Capitol St. in Lansing.

While head of the DEQ, Harding implemented a nationally acclaimed brownfield redevelopment program, eliminated a backlog of agency permits to job providers, and created the environmental assistance division which won national awards for helping businesses meet environmental standards voluntarily. He has testified before Congress numerous times on waste, air, and cleanup policies. Harding is currently senior director for environment and energy affairs with Scofes, Kindsvatter & Associates, a consulting firm with offices in Lansing.

Mackinac Center President Lawrence Reed said, "Russ Harding’s national reputation will bring a new level of visibility to free-market environmental policies. His studies, speeches, and testimony will be very influential in Lansing, and his research and educational programs will provide a model that other states will want to replicate. We are proud to add Russ to our full-time staff."

Harding joins a Mackinac Center staff of more than two-dozen economists, analysts, attorneys, and other professionals. He will work closely with Diane Katz, the Center’s director of science, environment, and technology policy. The 16-year-old nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute has a $3 million annual budget and a 40-plus member Board of Scholars. Its research has influenced state policy in education, labor relations, and taxation.

The Feb. 3 Issues and Ideas forum is free of charge and includes lunch for those who make reservations by calling (989) 631-0900.

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