[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.

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

Hydraulic Fracturing

Michigan State Parks Stuck in a Rut

How to improve state parks. … more

Hydraulic Fracturing

MichiganScience is a Mackinac Center quarterly magazine that helps meet the need for accurate and accessible information about the increasingly complex scientific issues confronting voters and lawmakers. The magazine reflects the idea that even the most technical scientific policy issues can be discussed with lively prose and compelling visuals. … more

Just the Facts

MichiganScience is a Mackinac Center quarterly magazine that helps meet the need for accurate and accessible information about the increasingly complex scientific issues confronting voters and lawmakers. The magazine reflects the idea that even the most technical scientific policy issues can be discussed with lively prose and compelling visuals. … more

Lansing Township Action Puts Taxpayers at Risk

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

Natural Resources Trust Fund Needs a Makeover

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

The EPA’s War on Energy

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

Russ Harding on WJRW

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