Everybody who holds the Great Lakes close to their hearts, who has even an ounce of concern for the Great Lakes should know the name of Russ Harding.
Russ Harding is currently the director of the Property Rights Network at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. The radical right-wing Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
Russ Harding worked as the director of Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality from 1995 t0 2002. Appointed by Republican Governor Engler. Not only that. He helped CREATE the Michigan Department of Environment Quality (DEQ). Which sounds good at first. Until one realizes that the DEQ was originally paired in one organization with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR and the DEQ were split to separate natural resources management from the permitting arm of Michigan's natural resources management.
Russ Harding essentially created and become the Director of the DEQ so that he could rubber stamp permits for big polluters at will: mining operations, coal power plants, dumping grounds, coal ash dumping, and oil and gas drilling.
The DEQ was essentially formed as a mechanism to legitimize industrial polluters. One might imagine this would at least lead to economic success...but one would be wrong. Despite the most destructive efforts of Harding and his boss Engler, Michigan started sliding into what would be a decade long recession starting in 2000. By the end of 2002, Michigan lost over 200,000 jobs before Engler or Harding stepped down...and the state would continue its slide until 2010.
By 2002, Harding's push to maintain oil and natural gas drilling under Lake Michigan came to an end with the State and then Federal Great Lakes Drilling Ban, which ended 23 years of drilling for oil under Lake Michigan.
Every few months, Harding releases some replayed statement in favor of drilling under Lake Michigan from his throne at the Mackinac Center of Public Policy, where he sits huched over rubbing his hands together with a mangy cat on his lap...I'm sure he says things like "yeessssssss, yeeeeeeeeesssss..." and "eeexcellent"
He cherry picks data to support his very clear agenda...
Though Lake Michigan water levels are once again 14 inches below the long term average, and showing a trend toward dropping, last year water levels rose briefly and Harding pounced, mockingly claiming that if lower water levels are a sign of global warming, dropping water levels must be a sign of global cooling...he cited the preliminary results of a study to bolster his claim of a lack of global warming
Climate change alarmists predicting doomsday scenarios for the Great Lakes are probably not too pleased with the draft report "Impacts on Upper Great Lakes Water Levels: St. Clair River" released May 1, 2009, by the International Joint Commission. The report found that the difference in water levels between Lake Michigan-Huron and Lake Erie of 9 inches between 1962 and 2006 was caused by three factors:
• A change in the conveyance of the St. Clair River, mostly likely caused by a large ice jam that occurred in the mid-1980s.
• Glacial isostatic adjustment (the rebounding of the earth's crust after the melting of the glaciers about 10,000 years ago).
• Changes in climate patterns.
Though the actual study he referenced explicitly stated that global warming is, in fact, a factor in falling water levels, going so far as to explicitly state that man made global warming is causing dropping water levels...Harding apparently didn't take Change in Climate Patters to mean "climate change."
The man literally makes stuff up out of whole cloth to justify his agenda. And has no problem citing materials as proof in the belief that you won't actually read his proof, or verify the usefulness of his source. Accuracy isn't of interest to the man.
The bottom line is...we're looking at a new period of Republican control of the state, during which time Russ Harding's radical conservative agenda may see a resurgence, and the ideas of Harding himself may once again gain traction.
And that's nothing but bad for Michigan. It's bad for Michigan's economy, and it's bad for Michigan's ecology.
Rumor had Rick Snyder briefly floating the name Russ Harding as a possible person to lead the DNRE, but that looks unlikely to pan out. Possibly a positive signal that Snyder takes the preservation and long term responsible use of Michigan's natural resources seriously.
I do hope so.
Russ Harding should never see the light of publicly appointed office ever again, or be taken seriously in any type of leadership role.