Published: Oct. 6, 2023

The Getches-Wilkinson Center and American Indian Law Program co-hosted the 15th Annual Schultz Lecture: The Road to Tribal Clean Energy Transition is Paved With Sovereign Action.

On October 5, 2023, the Getches-Wilkinson Center was proud to co-host Pilar Thomas for the 15th Annual Schultz Lecture in Energy in partnership with the American Indian Law Program.  Entitled “The Road to Tribal Clean Energy Transition is Paved with Sovereign Action”, Pilar’s lecture provided a hopeful and practical view into Tribal development of renewable energy projects. Pilar is a partner with Quarles & Brady’s Environmental and Natural Resources Practice Group, and she has a long track record of public service with the Department of Energy, the Department of Interior, the Department of Justice, and as general counsel for numerous Tribes and related business entities.

Earlier in the day, GWC hosted a lunch and learn for the law students, and Pilar shared her professional experiences and offered advice and guidance to students who are interested in working with Tribes and promoting renewable energy. Almost 50 students turned out for the event, which included an interesting and engaging Q&A session.

Thank you to Pilar for sharing her wisdom and expertise with the Colorado Law School community! The Schultz Energy in Lecture was made possible by the generosity of John H. and Cynthia H. Schultz, and we are grateful for their family’s continued commitment to GWC and Colorado Law School.

Pilar Thomas
Partner
Quarles & Brady’s Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Practice Group

Thursday, October 5, 2023
5:30 p.m. (Mountain Time)
Wolf Law Building, Wittemyer Courtroom

The Road to Tribal Clean Energy Transition is Paved With Sovereign Actions

With records amount of federal funding, changing state policies, and new attention to indigenous equity issues, Indian tribes and tribal communities have new opportunities to equitably participate in clean energy transition and decarbonization efforts. Many challenges remain, including lack of internal capacity,  lack of development support, and adverse state and utility polices.  Some challenges though, tribes can resolve for themselves through the exercise of sovereign rights and authorities.  This lecture will discuss these opportunities and challenges and the sovereign acts tribes can take to more fully participate in the clean energy transition for the benefit of their citizens.

 

Student Q&A with Pilar Thomas

GWC hosted a lunch and learn for CU Law students, and Pilar shared her professional experiences and offered advice and guidance to students who are interested in working with Tribes and promoting renewable energy. Almost 50 students turned out for the event, which included an interesting and engaging Q&A session.

 

Pilar ThomasPilar Thomas

Pilar Thomas (Pascua Yaqui) is a partner in Quarles & Brady’s Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Practice Group. She focuses her practice on tribal renewable energy project development and finance, tribal economic development, federal Indian Law, and natural resource development. Pilar assists clients with strategic legal advice on tribal energy policy and planning; clean energy and infrastructure project development and finance; federal and state energy regulatory, programs, and policy efforts; and federal requirements for tribal lands development. She serves as general counsel for several tribes, Section 17 and tribal business entities.

Pilar previously served as the Deputy Director for the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs at the US Department of Energy, where she was responsible for developing and implementing policy and program efforts within the department and federal government to promote energy development, electrification, and infrastructure improvement on tribal lands. She also is the former Deputy Solicitor of Indian Affairs for the US Department of the Interior, where she advised the Secretary, Assistant-Secretary for Indian Affairs, and other Department officials on matters related to tribes, tribal law, and federal Indian law.  Ms. Thomas was Of Counsel at Lewis Roca, representing tribes on gaming and economic development matters.  She also served as the Interim Attorney General and Chief of Staff for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and was a trial attorney in the US Department of Justice, Environmental and Natural Resources Division, Indian Resources Section.

Pilar serves on the NABA-AZ Board and is a past President and Secretary.  She also serves on the boards for GRID Alternatives and the Foundation for Natural Resources and Energy Law.  She previously served as the Chair and Vice-Chair at large for the ABA Section on Energy, Environment and Resources Native American Resources Committee.  In her spare time, Pilar teaches Indian Energy Law at both the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and the University of Arizona James Rogers School of Law (but not at the same time).

She received her J.D. from the University of New Mexico School of Law, magna cum laude, with a certificate in Indian Law, and her B.A. in Economics from Stanford University.

 

The Schultz Lectureship in EnergyJohn H. and Cynthia H. Schultz

 

In 2007, the Schultz Lecture in Energy was launched to support an annual lecture by renowned scholars in energy or natural resources law. This series was made possible by the generosity of John H. and Cynthia H. Schultz and allows the Getches-Wilkinson Center (GWC) to bring in thought leaders from across the country. Our speakers address emerging issues and challenges in the oil and gas, energy, and natural resources fields, providing valuable information to policymakers, practitioners, business executives, students, and the academic community.

John Schultz (CU Econ, Political. Science ‘51) (CU Law ‘53) was an oil and gas attorney whose impactful career in Colorado and the Western U.S. spanned the second half of the 20th century. John Schultz passed away on April 5, 2020, surrounded by family in the comfort of his own home in Lafayette, Colorado. Cynthia Schultz was a University of Colorado administrative staff member who served the University in many ways. She was a member of the Graduate School Advisory Council, the Graduate School Resource Committee, and on the Ad Hoc Task Force on Graduate Education. Cynthia passed away on December 20, 2011. Both John’s and Cynthia’s generosity of time with our students was exceptional.

Their legacies continue, in part, through their substantial gifts to the University of Colorado, Colorado Law, and to the GWC where we are so appreciative of the Schultz family’s generosity. The family’s continued commitment means that this lecture can be free and open to the public. The format (normally) includes a public reception following the talk, providing the opportunity to continue a lively discussion, as well as a dinner with the speaker, the extended Schultz family, the Dean, GWC faculty, and several law students.