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About Pilar

Prepared, strategic energy policy and counsel for tribes 

Pilar Thomas advises Native American tribes on tribal renewable energy project development and finance, tribal economic development, federal Indian law and natural resource development. Clients turn to her for strategic legal advice on:

  • Tribal energy policy and planning
  • Clean energy and infrastructure project development and financing
  • Federal and state energy regulatory, programs and policy efforts
  • Federal requirements for tribal land development

Pilar's in depth federal Indian law experience extends to her governmental work as deputy director for the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs at the U.S. Department of Energy. She was responsible for developing and implementing policies and programs to achieve the office's objectives related to the promotion of energy development, electrification and infrastructure improvement on tribal lands.

Pilar also was the deputy solicitor of Indian Affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior interim attorney general, chief of staff to Chairwoman Herminia Frias of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental and Natural Resources Division, Indian Resources Section.

Experience in Action

  • Drafts HEARTH Act leasing regulations to be submitted to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
  • Drafts tribal laws, regulations and policies related to economic development, land use and environmental review.
  • Shepherds clients through the federal regulatory process for land into trust decisions and related environmental reviews.
  • Monitors, reviews and drafts comments on federal and state agency actions, as well as federal legislation related to tribal energy development.
  • Negotiates leases and right of ways for utility scale renewable projects, and agreements related to transmission lines, landfill gas, solar projects, natural gas power plants and mineral development on tribal lands.
  • Serves as general counsel for several tribes, Section 17 and tribal business entities.

Professional Recognitions

  • Best Lawyers in America® (2017-present: Native American Law)
  • Chambers USA® (2018-present: Native American Law)
  • Best Lawyers in America® "Lawyer of the Year" (2022, 2024: Native American Law)
  • AZ Big Media "Top 100 Lawyers in Arizona" (2022) 
  • Arizona American Indian Excellence in Leadership Awards “Woman of the Year” (2022)

Professional & Civic Activities

  • Energy Bar Association, member
  • Native American Bar Association of Arizona, board member
  • Native American Bar Association of D.C., member
  • National Native American Bar Association, member
  • Federal Bar Association, member
  • Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, trustee-at-large
  • American Bar Association, Native American Resources Committee, chair
  • GRID Alternatives, board member

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