Environmental Progress

This content was last updated April 29, 2024, 2:11 p.m. UTC

Environmental Progress is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2016 in Berkeley, California. They claim their mission is “achieving nature, peace and prosperity for all,” and that “everyone has a right to affordable energy, a healthy planet, and urban environments that enable citizens to thrive.” They claim their primary method of activism is funding and protecting grassroots environmental groups. However, they also have a history of anti-transgender and anti-black lives matter activities, as well as climate change denialism.

I do not believe there’s such a thing as a male woman, and no amount of hormones or surgeries can turn a man into a woman. I won’t pretend to believe in something that I know is not true.

24 March, 2024, Environmental Progress researcher Mia Hughes


Environmental Progress was founded on May 4th, 2016, by Michael Shellenberger, who is listed as the organization’s incorporator on their articles of incorporation form. Environmental Progress’s website describes Shellenberger as the “founder-president” of the organization, as well as an investigative journalist and presenter of many TED talks.

Environmental Progress received its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status on September 18th, 2017, backdated to their filing date, May 4th, 2016.


On their website, Environmental Progress publicly lists their 990 tax returns for 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022. The IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search tool provides copies of their 990 tax returns from 2016, 2017 and 2018.

In 2016, Environmental Progress reported $625,436 in contributions, gifts and grants. They claimed $423,352 in expenses and net assets of $202,084 for the year. Their expenses are explained in part as the cost of research and education in the form of “videos, research articles, website” and “fellowship focus groups,” which they claim to have spent $383,582 on. They also list “conferences, talks and meetings with specialists” as part of their expenses, but do not include a monetary value for these expenditures. They listed their key employees as President/Treasurer Michael Shellenberger, Directors Steve Kirsch and Kristian Zaitz, and Vice Presidents Minshu Deng and Madison Czerwinski. Shellenberger, Deng and Czerwinski claim to have worked an average of forty hours per week for the organization, though nobody is listed as receiving reportable compensation from Environmental Progress or any other organization.

In 2022, Environmental Progress reported $559,906 in contributions, gifts and grants. They claimed $671,718 in expenses and reported net annual assets of -$31,468. They list their expenses as $203,374 in grants paid out, $162,679 in salaries and benefits, and $305,665 in other expenses. They now list key employees as President/Treasurer Michael Shellenberger, Executive VP Gabrielle Haigh, and Directors Ken Broad, Melissa Chen, Justin Dangel, Roger Pielke, Jr., Steve Kirsch, Lisa Linowes, Matt Swanson and Kristin Zaitz. Each employee is listed as working an average of one hour a week for the organization, except Shellenberger and Haigh, who are listed as working 18 and 10 hours respectively. For this work, Shellenberger was compensated $102,187, and Haigh was compensated $17,080.

They do not list their donors’ names on any of their tax forms, but they do list over a dozen donors in the about section of their website.

History of Anti-LGBTQ+ Activism

Environmental Progress and its members participate in climate change denialism, suggesting that journalists lie about climate change, that renewable energy sources are not cost efficient, and that humans have minimal impact on the environment.

Related to this, Environmental Progress’s website has a page titled “Escape the Woke Matrix,” which contains supplemental information for a University of Austin speaking engagement given by Michael Shellenberger. The webpage includes dozens of screenshots of news headlines about climate change, the Black Lives Matter movement, and violence against transgender people. They provide mostly skewed evidence, such as narrowed statistics about police violence against black Americans, or suggesting that it can’t be proven that violence against transgender Americans is a result of the fact that they are transgender.

On March 4th, 2024, Environmental Progress released “the WPATH files,” a collection of 140 pages of posts from the members-only forums of international transgender healthcare organization, World Professional Association for Transgender Health. The files also include an introduction by Shellenberger and an analysis of the files by the Environmental Progress employee who assembled them, Mia Hughes, writing as Mia Ashton. Hughes has written anti-transgender articles for far-right news outlet The Post Millennial, and staunchly refuses to gender trans people correctly.

WPATH’s members-only forums can be accessed by anybody for $225, including non-healthcare professionals who just want to provide monetary support for the organization. The contents of “the WPATH files” are largely inconsequential forum posts from healthcare workers discussing their day-to-day work, and the majority of the posts have had usernames censored, making it impossible to verify who is posting and what credentials they may or may not have.

Further resources:

Environmental Progress's website

Contact The Trans Data Library

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