[Photo of Russ Harding]

Russ Harding

Senior Fellow in Environmental and Regulatory Policy

Russ Harding is the senior fellow in environmental and regulatory policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. He previously served as senior environmental analyst and was director of the Center's Property Rights Network. 

From 1995 through 2002, Harding served as director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, having previously held senior management posts in environmental and natural resources departments in Arizona, Alaska and Missouri. Before joining the Center, Harding was senior director for environment and energy affairs with Scofes, Kindsvatter & Associates, a consulting firm.

Congress Mandates the Impossible

Gas prices spike as fines are passed on to consumers. … more

Book Highlights Failings of Enviro Trends

"Eco-Fads" a rational, scientific read. … more

New Year Resolutions That Need to be Kept

How to kick off the new year right … more

A Christmas Wish

All I really want for Christmas is less government … more

EPA Turns Out The Christmas Lights

New MACT rule will cost utilities millions. … more

Motorists Paying for Bike Paths, Museums

Gas taxes should only go toward roads and bridges. … more

Are the Feds Giving Up on Detroit?

Light-rail plan scrapped; city's stability questioned. … more

Power Hungry

Government policies increase electricity costs. … more

Are Politicians Smarter Than the Rest of Us?

Political class should stop trying to plan our lives. … more

Governor Picks Bureaucrats Over Business

Veto of HB 4326 entrenches regulatory regime. … more

We Have Declared War on Ourselves

Energy policies weaken America. … more

Raiding State Trust Funds a Bad Idea

Legislators shouldn't pretend to be venture capitalists. … more

Holding Legislators Accountable

HB 4326 promotes transparency, liberty. … more

Environmentalists Threaten Great Lakes

Offshore wind turbines too risky; petition should be ignored. … more

Whoville Speaks Out

President Obama's Christmas tree tax put on hold. … more

Pipeline Protest Belies National Security 'Concerns'

The "green" movement shows its true colors at the White House. … more

Bureaucracy Trumps Managerial Prowess

SB272 would increase accountability. … more

High-Speed Rail Projects Often Derail

Michigan needs to pursue a different track. … more

'Green Jobs' Replaced with Blue Collar Jobs?

Government gambling with taxpayer dollars loses again. … more

$500m Subsidy for Finnish Electric Car Maker

Is this for green energy or foreign aid? … more

Al Gore Now a Great Lakes Expert

Climate alarmism deserves skeptical view. … more

Proposal Would Make State More Accountable

Gubernatorial appointees would help reduce administrative state. … more

Electric Cars Nonstarter With Consumers

New survey shows disinterest in electric cars. … more

From Solyndra to Nevada Geothermal?

Another federally backed green energy company may go under. … more

The Solyndra Lesson

More subsidies not the answer to job creation. … more

Politicians Pursue 'Green Jobs' at Their Peril

Propping up bad policy could cost them their jobs. … more

Ideas for Regulatory Reform

Now is the time for bold action to help create jobs. … more

EPA Rules Could Impact Electricity Reliability

Congress should demand that FERC study EPA rules.
 … more

Where Are All the Green Jobs?

Green jobs subsidies lead to red ink. … more

How to Kill Jobs in Urban Areas

"Environmental justice" sends wrong message to businesses. … more

Corporate Environmental Indoctrination

Subsidized companies dabbling in school curriculum. … more

Government Inaction on Air Rule Saves Jobs

More work is necessary to dismantle job-killing regulations. … more

Townships Blow Off Residents Over Wind Farms

Property rights endangered by push for alternative energy. … more

Higher Energy Costs Mean Fewer Jobs

Will politicians stand up to the EPA? … more

Global Warming Will Lead to Alien Invasions?

Climate change alarmists grasping at straws. … more

Why Is Regulatory Reform Legislation Stalled?

Gov. Snyder should insist bills be completed. … more

Ann Arbor Considering Fines for Normal Operation of Cars

America is quickly changing from the land of the free and the brave to the land of the regulated and fined. … more

EPA: It's For Your Own Good

Elected representatives must stop an excessive administrative state. … more

Former Governor Gets it Wrong Again

Gov. Granholm in Newsweek.  … more

CAFE Standard Won't Stand

Public shrugs shoulders over unreasonable demand.  … more

EPA's Attack on Coal Could be Deadly

EPA decision could increase risk during heat waves.  … more

Ill Wind in New Jersey Is Bad News for Michigan

Cost-benefit analysis shows off-shore wind development is a perfect storm. … more

Government Does Not Create Jobs — But It Can Help or Hurt

Government officials at all levels should take a pledge to “do no more harm” to the economy and job creation. … more

Secure Property Rights Good for the Environment

New study confirms value of property rights.  … more

Another $2 Billion Bad Idea From Washington

The government must get its fiscal house in order by massive cuts, not by taking money from one pocket to put in another. … more

Is Europe's Attack on the Car Coming Here?

The mobility provided by the car is one of the greatest freedoms enjoyed by Americans. … more

Environmental Group Wrong About Coal Plants

Technology, not ideology, should drive energy policy. … more

Energy Policy Should be Above Politics

Strategic Petroleum Reserve is for times of crisis. … more

Good News From Marathon

Extra refinery capacity in Detroit will not only bring jobs and revenue, but also protect against gas price spikes and allow utilization of oil sands. … more

When Regulatory Agencies Cross the Line

Regulators should uphold the law, not go beyond it and act as environmental advocates. … more

High-Speed Rail? Not So Fast

Hundreds of millions of dollars for just 60 mph? … more

Critics of HB 4326 Miss the Point

Regulation without representation is unacceptable. … more

State Faces Decision in Electricity Grid Upgrade

Is Michigan being treated fairly in plan to upgrade power grid? … more

Michigan State Parks Stuck in a Rut

How to improve state parks. … more

Lansing Township Action Puts Taxpayers at Risk

Government shouldn't be in the real estate business. … more

EPA’s War on Energy Hitting Pocketbooks

The market is starting to speak, and the news is not good. … more

End Energy Subsidies to Reduce National Debt

Time to stop corporate welfare for energy producers. … more

Green-Labor Alliance Bad for Workers

Union workers should reject the political agenda of their leaders. … more

Flood Insurance May Leave You High and Dry

Property owners should question floodplain maps. … more

Environmentalists Object to Following the Law

DEQ right to give Wolverine Power a permit hearing. … more

Garden Variety Bureaucracy

Detroit gardening permits a tough row to hoe. … more

Michigan Punches Rail Ticket

When will Michigan leaders learn that federal money is expensive and always comes with strings attached? … more

Regulatory Reform vs. Fluff

A ministry of silly legislation? … more

Trust Fund Baby

Time for the Natural Resources Trust Fund to pay its own way. … more

Government Action Could Lower Gas Prices

Federal government policies are partially responsible for the pain that Americans are feeling at the gas pump. … more

UN Treaty Would Give Rights to 'Mother Earth'

It's not just the silly ramblings of a Bolivian socialist leader — a pervasive environmental worldview pushes a religion, not stewardship. … more

Meridian Township Rules Against American Flag

The Stars and Stripes have been proudly flying over a Belle Tire store since its recent opening on Grand River Avenue in Meridian Township near Lansing. Not so fast, says the Meridian Township Zoning Board of Appeals, which ruled by a 5-0 vote that the flag must be taken down according to a report in the Lansing State Journal… more

DEQ Fee Increases for 'Business as Usual'

The Department of Environmental Quality is requesting fee increases for air quality and solid waste permitting programs. The Legislature should not grant the agency’s request without requiring that the DEQ change the way it does business. … more

EPA Budget Cut

As budget details from the last-minute effort to keep the federal government operating are being released, it is clear that the Environmental Protection Agency is the big loser. … more

Budget Impasse Over EPA Worth Having

At the time of this writing it remains to be seen if the federal government will be subject to a partial shutdown due to budget wrangling in Congress. The difference in budget reduction dollar amounts has become almost meaningless as reductions in the $30 billion range are tiny compared to the trillions of dollars of red ink the federal government is piling up. … more

Cool Cities Warmed Over

Gov. Rick Snyder has issued the first in a series of special messages on policy issues to the Michigan Legislature. In his first policy message, he chose to address community development and local government reforms. The local government reform policy recommendations are good, the community development recommendations not so much. … more

Gov. Granholm to Tour Country for Green Energy

The best way to encourage the creation of more energy-related jobs in Michigan is to encourage natural gas and oil development, not by implementing policies that unduly restrict access to those resources. … more

How Much State Land Is Enough?

How much land should the Michigan Department of Natural Resources own or control? … more

Missed Opportunity for Regulatory Reform

Gov. Rick Snyder took a step in the right direction by separating environmental and natural resource functions into two agencies. The reorganization, however, falls short of what is needed to reform Michigan’s dysfunctional environmental permitting system. … more

DEQ Accused of Harassing Sparta Company

Apparently, the DEQ has enough employees to make unannounced inspection visits to companies that aren’t even required to have the applicable permits. State appropriators may want to examine the DEQ’s budget to indentify cost savings. Taxpayers should not be expected to foot the bill to keep excess employees on the payroll.   … more

State Forest Resources Underutilized

The wise use of our natural resources has historically been critical to a flourishing Michigan economy. It is past time that we get back to the basics and utilize our forest resources to create jobs. … more

Government Regulation Killing Energy Jobs

Politicians claim job creation is a top priority, but political rhetoric does not always reflect reality. Often government actions kill jobs. Nowhere is the negative impact of government regulation on job creation more evident than in the energy sector. … more

Everyday Citizens Run Risk of Being Criminals

Until the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality specifically identifies all the wetlands on private property in the state, private property owners in the state are subject to criminal prosecution — a threat to liberty that every should concern everyone. … more

Drill Rather Than Tap U.S. Oil Reserves

The response from some politicians to release oil from the strategic petroleum reserve with the hopes of lowering prices (a questionable outcome) points to the fallacy of making U.S. energy policy based on short-term political considerations rather than a long-term balanced energy policy that is in the best interest of the nation. … more

Michigan House Fires Shot in EPA’s War on Energy

Yesterday the Michigan House voiced its opposition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to side-stepping Congress by promulgating rules that regulate greenhouse gas emissions. … more

Government Mandate on Toilets Stinks

Michigan officials should take a time out on any new environmental mandates until we fully understand the unintended consequences of new requirements. … more

Criminals Profit From Carbon Trading

With the U.S. economy still realing from massive fraud in the housing meltdown, the last thing we need is to provide another lucrative opportunity for cyber fraud. … more

Repeal Ban on Great Lakes Directional Drilling

Alternative energy does not produce the good paying American jobs that oil and gas production does. The recent turmoil in Egypt and the Middle East underscores how important it is to develop the extensive energy resources abundantly found in North America.  … more

New Report Finds Alternative Fuels Do Not Benefit Military

It appears that the political hype surrounding alternative fuels is based more on wishful thinking than facts. … more

Requiring Cost-Benefit Analysis of New Environmental Regs a Step in the Right Direction

It is encouraging that members of the newly elected Michigan Legislature are taking action to thwart over-zealous environmental regulations that are killing jobs in Michigan. Rep. Greg MacMaster, R-Kewadin, has introduced House Bill 4044, which seeks to get a handle on the cost of environmental regulation in the state.  … more

Action, not Talk, Needed for Regulatory Reform

Tonight in his first State of the State address, Gov. Rick Snyder has an opportunity to lay out specific proposals on how to reform Michigan’s oppressive regulatory regime. … more

House Democrats Break With Environmental Supporters

Michigan House Democrats should be applauded for breaking with former Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the environmental lobby on the issue of clean coal-fired power plants. … more

Natural Resources Trust Fund in Need of Change

Michigan voters in 1984 approved amending the state Constitution requiring that oil, gas and mineral lease and royalty payments be placed into a trust fund creating the Natural Resource Trust Fund. The legislature then passed Public Act 101 of 1985 to implement the new amendment. It is time for state lawmakers to amend it. … more

Michigan Fiscal Policy a Two-Sided Coin

Michigan residents have a reasonable expectation that elected officials can do more than one thing at time. It is time for our leaders to meet those expectations.  … more

The DNRE Is Dead. Long Live the DNR and DEQ

In his first executive order, Gov. Rick Snyder has split the Department of Natural Resources and Environment back into two separate agencies. His action restores the organization of state government dealing with natural resources and the environment into two separate agencies; recreating the Departments of Environmental Quality and Natural Resources.  … more

State Supreme Court Reaffirms Property Rights of Lakefront Owners

The Michigan Supreme Court gave all private property owners in the state a belated Christmas gift with a ruling handed down on Dec. 29, 2010, that reaffirms that landowners in Michigan still have private property rights. … more

Political Gridlock Is a Good Thing

As we look forward to a new year, let's hope we are not once again disappointed with decisions made by the ruling class in Lansing and finding ourselves pining for the days of political gridlock. … more

Regulation Without Representation Alive and Well in Washington

Decisions made in Washington that affect every aspect of the lives of Americans, from the kind of cars we can drive to what type of light bulb we can put in our homes, are increasingly being made by individuals that never stand for election. … more

Chevy Volt Will Win Car of the Year

While it is always risky making predictions, this one is a slam dunk: The Chevrolet Volt will win the North American Car of the Year award at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month. Unfortunately we seem to live in a world where objective analysis has given way to political correctness, which is why I am confident regarding my prediction. … more

Saugatuck Township Uses Zoning Laws to Thwart Private Property Rights

Saugatuck Township officials are willing to bankrupt the township to stop a development along Lake Michigan, according to an article appearing in The Wall Street Journal… more

California Leads Nation in Green Economic Suicide

You do not have to look as far away as Europe to see how irresponsible spending can lead to economic collapse. California, where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency as state debt has ballooned to more than $20 billion, provides a good example right here at home.  … more

New Tax Money Will Not Fix Brownfield Process

Lawmakers should reject a proposal from the Michigan Environmental Council for a 3/8-cent increase in the sales tax to fund the state’s dysfunctional contaminated site cleanup program. Throwing more taxpayer money at environmental cleanups will not fix what’s wrong with the state’s contaminated site cleanup program. … more

Climate Negotiations Carry a Chilling Message

Recent climate conferences in Stockholm and Cancun have revealed what the global climate change issue is really all about — the transfer of wealth from developed nations to developing countries. … more

Look to Michigan for a Lesson in What Not to Do

The federal government should look to the effects of Michigan's pursuit of green energy jobs as a warning, not as the shining model Gov. Jennifer Granholm paints in a recent article proposing a federal "green jobs" grant program. … more

National Park Rangers Rewriting History?

State and national parks play an important role in reminding visitors of the unique heritage we share in America as free and independent people by retelling the stories of our ancestors who often endured hardship or even death in securing the freedoms many of us take for granted. … more