[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.

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

Gov. Granholm's 'Mighty Wind' More a Light Breeze

Gov. Jennifer Granholm recently wrote an article for the Huffington Post titled “A Mighty Wind,” in which she credits Michigan’s renewable energy standard of 2008 — which requires 10 percent of energy produced by the major utilities in the state come from renewable sources — for revitalizing the state’s economy. … more

Analysis: Hydraulic Fracturing the Key to Michigan’s Energy Future

Analysis: Michigan Should Reject High-Speed Rail Money

Michigan Should Reject High-Speed Rail Money

Michigan's roads and bridges are crumbling while the federal government is throwing money at states for the purpose of building high-speed rail lines. … more

Government Subsidies for Green Power Risky

Michigan officials would be wise to follow the lead of other states that we compete with for jobs and protect Michigan consumers and businesses from higher green energy costs. A good place to start is repealing the Michigan's 10 percent alternative energy mandate.  … more

Hydraulic Fracturing the Key to Michigan’s Energy Future

Elected Officials Work for the People, not the Government

The only way to end poor behavior on the part of elected officials is to hold them accountable… more

Bloated Regulatory System Hurts Agriculture

Regulatory reform is needed in the state to once again enable Michigan businesses to compete, and this is especially true for Michigan's agricultural industry.  … more

Overregulation Killing Economic Recovery

A recent report from the Small Business Administration calculates the existing annual regulatory costs at $1.75 trillion. This is nearly twice as large as the sum of all individual income taxes collected last year. … more

Green for Green

Russ Harding, senior environmental analyst, was featured in a story on using government subsidies to purchase hybrid trucks that appeared on both Michigan Public Radio and National Public Radio recently. … more

Natural Resources the Key to Energy Security

Natural Resources the Key to Energy Security

Environmental groups and other proponents of shifting to renewable energy to power our factories, heat our homes and fuel our vehicles are often the same groups that stand in the way of natural resource development. They don't realize you cannot have one without the other. … more

New Energy Policy for a New Governor

There has been very little innovative thinking on energy policy by political leaders in Michigan in recent years. … more

Environmental Regulation in Michigan

United States No Longer Among Top Nations in Protecting Private Property Rights

Genesee County Land Bank Threatens Private Property Rights

Do We Really Own Property or Just Rent it From the Government?

East Lansing Should Look to China on Property Rights

Unelected EPA Bureaucrats Threat to Rule of Law

The greatest power of government to affect the daily lives of Americans may be wielded by federal, state and local regulatory officials who never stand for election. … more

EPA Decision a Boon for Mechanics and Lawyers

Government attempts to direct energy markets by mandates, regulations and subsidies almost always ends badly. Yesterday's E15 decision by the EPA is just one more example. … more

Poor Subsidizing Rich to Buy New Cars

When most people talk about the government redistributing wealth, it involves money being taken from those who have more and being given to those who have less, such as with entitlement programs.
That has taken a new twist that few would have predicted with lavish government subsidies for purchasing electric vehicles. … more

Analysis: Slaves to Green Ideology

Slaves to Green Ideology

Liberty is seldom lost in one fell swoop. In America, freedom is dying a death by a thousand green cuts. … more

Detroiters May Lose Right to Garden

House Bill 6458, introduced by Reps. Gabe Leland, D-Detroit, and Mike Huckleberry, D-Greenville, is the latest assault on private property rights to come out of Lansing. … more

Analysis: State Park Campground Additions a Bad Idea

State Park Campground Additions a Bad Idea

Michigan State Parks officials often complain that there is insufficient revenue to adequately operate and maintain the system. The legislative response to the problem? Add more revenue-losing rustic campgrounds to the State Park system. … more

More Taxpayer Money for Social Engineering

The ruling class in Washington and Lansing has determined that for our own good motorists should be driving electric cars. … more

Analysis: Cool Cities Are Not So Cool When You Don't Have a Job

Cool Cities Are Not So Cool When You Don't Have a Job

Urban planning efforts hurt the little guy while pursuing elitist policies. … more

Licensing Requirements Help Trade Associations More Than Consumers

House Bill 6374 would greatly increase the government control of hundreds of professions. … more

Disaster Losses From Global Warming Debunked

"Climate campaigners" should hold off on making sweeping generalizations regarding global warming. … more

Environmentalism Is a Threat to Liberty

Most environmentalists would not consider themselves socialists, much less communists, but the policies they support in the name of saving the planet almost always sacrifice individual liberty for central government control. … more

Environmentalists Missing in Action on Protecting Great Lakes From Wind Farms

The Great Lakes are a national treasure and are too important to Michigan to sacrifice to environmental and political ideology. Locating windmills in the Great Lakes is a high-risk venture. It is time for the state to do its job and ensure the Great Lakes are protected. … more

Analysis: Low-Carbon Fuel Standard a Gift to Ethanol Lobby

Guide Someone Hunting on National Forest Land and You Could be Breaking the Law

The U.S. Forest Service has issued new regulations regarding guiding and outfitting on national forest lands. If you plan to guide someone in the fall bear season and you have not made application for a permit, you may be out of luck as the application deadline was July 1. … more

Wind Power Will Blow Household Budgets

Michigan residents can expect to pay significantly higher energy bills in the future due in large part to state law that requires that 10 percent of electricity sales in the state come from renewable sources, such as wind… more

Analysis: Genesee County Land Bank Threatens Private Property Rights

Analysis: United States No Longer Among Top Nations in Protecting Private Property Rights

Parks and Wrecks

Michigan doesn't need more funds for state parks, just better management of them.  … more

United States no Longer Among Top Nations in Protecting Private Property Rights

According to the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom published by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, there are 16 countries that do a better job of protecting private property rights than the United States. … more

Greatest Tragedy of Gulf Oil Spill Isn't Environmental

The New York Times reported yesterday that "the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be dissolving far more rapidly than expected" and that "the immense patches of surface oil that covered thousands of square miles of the gulf are largely gone." … more

Cap-and-Trade Dead but Not Gone

It is good news that cap-and-trade legislation passed by the U.S. House will not be taken up by the Senate as announced by Senate leader Harry Reid yesterday. However, it is too early to celebrate the death of this job-killing legislation that would increase the cost of energy for American consumers and businesses. Bad ideas coming out of Washington die only to be resurrected in another form. … more

Federal Government Wants to Decide Which Car Models Americans Drive

When it comes to which model of vehicle Americans should buy, the federal government knows best — or believes it does. … more

Derailed: Michigan Should Heed Greece's Experience With Light Rail

Derailed: Michigan Should Heed Greece's Experience With Light Rail

Michigan leaders who are enamored with building new light-rail passenger lines should look to Greece's experience with its railway system. … more

Analysis: Michigan Needs Regulatory Certainty

Analysis: Gulf Moratorium Similar to Directional Drilling Ban

Gulf Moratorium Similar to Directional Drilling Ban

The ban on oil drilling in the Gulf has much in common with the ban on directional drilling for oil and gas under the Great Lakes. … more

Michigan Needs Regulatory Certainty

Regulatory uncertainty is a major barrier to job creation in this state. … more

EPA Action on Sulfur Dioxide Points to Future Under Cap-and-Trade

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced it is drastically lowering the standard for sulfur dioxide under the Clean Air Act.  … more

Why More Government Regulation Seldom Works

As BP has belatedly learned, the strongest incentive for environmental compliance is the very survival of the company. No amount of additional regulations can provide that kind of incentive. … more

Threats of Eminent Domain Should Not Be a Bargaining Tool

Private capitol essential to growing jobs in Michigan is much more likely to be invested where private property rights are secure and not threatened by the actions of well-meaning public officials. … more

EPA Crying Over Unspilled Milk

The U.S. EPA has classified milk as an oil that is subject to federal regulation, which requires that it be regulated under the Clean Water Act. … more

Analysis: Politics Trumps Science on Great Lakes Drilling

Politics Trumps Science on Great Lakes Drilling

Sometimes it seems like we are repeating the Dark Ages but with political fear-mongering replacing superstition in trumping science. A future where public policy is primarily shaped by fear rather than relying on the best science is too bleak to contemplate. … more

High-Speed Rail a Fast Way to Waste Money

Even with extensive evidence that high-speed rail projects are very expensive to build and operate, the Michigan Legislature seems intent on expanding this form of inefficient mass transit in the state. … more

Do We Really Own Property or Just Rent it From the Government?

Analysis: East Lansing Should Look to China on Property Rights

U.S. Senate Resolution Would Limit EPA Power

Congress has an opportunity to restore accountability to elected officials and put limits on the power wielded by unaccountable bureaucrats when the U.S. Senate considers Joint Resolution 26 tomorrow. … more

East Lansing Should Look to China on Property Rights

Chinese officials are considering rules that would make it more difficult for local government to seize property from individuals and turn it over to developers without at least compensating the property owners, according to a report in the May 27, 2010, edition of The New York Times. East Lansing officials may want to pay attention. … more

Changes in Brownfield Laws Will Help Michigan

Michigan's brownfield contaminated site cleanup program, once considered by many to be the best in the nation, is today largely dysfunctional. The main problem is that it is nearly impossible to get closure — once you check in you can never check out. Businesses are reluctant to invest money to clean up contaminated sites when they are at the whim of state environmental regulators for a never ending series of additional cleanup requirements.  … more

Governor Declares Climate Action Council Dead

Gov. Granholm is often quoted as saying: "I will go anywhere and do anything to create jobs in Michigan." She can start in Lansing by burying the recommendations of the Midwest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord along with the now defunct Michigan Climate Action Council. … more

Federal Regulators Harming Environment in Gulf Oil Spill

The Gulf oil spill has demonstrated federal environmental officials left on their own will make decisions that defy common sense and logic. Guidance from the Obama administration is sorely needed. … more

Analysis: State's Decision to Deny Wolverine Power Plant Smacks of a Double Standard

State's Decision to Deny Wolverine Power Plant Smacks of a Double Standard

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment today announced the denial of the permit to install applied for by Wolverine Power Supply to build a new 600 megawatt coal fired power plant near Rogers City. … more

Analysis: Great Lakes Wind Development Too Risky

Great Lakes Wind Development Too Risky

Constructing hundreds of wind turbines in the water, each approaching 400 feet in height with blades as long as 70 feet, would transform the scenic vistas of the Great Lakes into one of an industrial complex. Hardly "pure Michigan." … more

House Resolution a Poor Substitute for Veto Power

Anyone who is concerned about protecting the Great Lakes from diversions should be worried when the state Legislature has to resort to a non-binding House Concurrent Resolution as a last line of defense against large scale diversions from Lake Michigan. … more

Analysis: Time to Abandon Midwest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord

Time to Abandon Midwest Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord

Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, has introduced a resolution that would withdraw Michigan from the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord… more

Newspaper Death Act

Newspaper Death Act

What possible benefit to the public could there be in requiring a newspaper deposit? … more

Dam the Beavers

Public Ownership Violates Property Rights

Thoughts About Earth Day

Earth Day does not seem to have much to do anymore with a desire for cleaner air, land or water but instead with promoting a left-leaning political ideology. … more

New Air Standards Unrealistic

When federal air requirements become so strict that everyone is out of compliance, then in effect no one is out of compliance.   … more

DNRE Applying Double Standard in Detroit Asbestos Violation

It is disturbing that Detroit City officials and its contractors would flagrantly disregard well-known environmental laws regarding the removal of asbestos. It is more disturbing that state environmental regulatory officials seem to be applying different enforcement standards to government agencies and the private sector. … more

DNRE Applying Double Standard in Detroit Asbestos Violation

It is disturbing that Detroit City officials and its contractors would flagrantly disregard well-known environmental laws regarding the removal of asbestos. It is more disturbing that state environmental regulatory officials seem to be applying different enforcement standards to government agencies and the private sector. … more

White House Gives Preference to Car From Company It Owns

The Detroit Free Press reported today that the White House announced yesterday that it will buy the first 100 plug-in electric vehicles to roll off American assembly lines before the end of the year. Surprise: The only car to meet that qualification is the Chevy Volt, which coincidentally started production at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant on the same day of the White House announcement. Apparently, federal purchasing requirements have been creatively constructed to allow the U.S. government to purchase the vehicles from General Motors, of which the federal government has a 61 percent ownership. … more

'Green Bonds' House Bill Encourages More Debt

If HB 5663 is the best lawmakers can do, we would be better off if they stayed home. … more

Breathe Easy

The trampling of states' rights by the federal government seems to know no bounds. … more

Reorganization of Departments of Natural Resources and Environmental Quality Is Bad News

The timing could not be worse for reorganization of the state's environmental permitting functions. … more

League of Women Voters' Stance on Energy Policy Hurts Women

Energy policy that makes it more expensive for developing countries to provide electricity to their citizens only leads to more human suffering and premature death. … more

Pledging Regulatory Reform

Ignore the Facts! Green Jobs are Good

The U.S. Department of Energy should be providing us with unbiased energy information. All Americans should be concerned when federal agencies are used as a political tool to advance policy objectives of the president or members of Congress. Is it any wonder that trust for government it at such a low point… more