Advocates for the West



Boise, ID

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2017):

Revenue: $1,371,770
Expenses: $1,188,511
Assets: $1,094,271

Executive Director:

Laird J. Lucas




Environmentalist Public Interest Law Firm

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Advocates for the West is a left-of-center environmentalist public interest law firm. The firm brings legal challenges to oil, gas, mining, and other energy development projects in Western states and frequently opposed the Trump administration’s energy policies.

Opposition to the Bureau of Land Management

During the Trump administration, Advocates for the West frequently clashed with the Bureau of Land Management, the federal agency that administers millions of square miles of federal lands. Advocates for the West also challenged the designation of the agency’s former Acting Director, William Perry Pendley. 1

In 2020, the firm sued to block the administration’s oil and gas development plan for the Uncompahgre Peak region along Colorado’s Western Slope, one of the largest natural gas fields in North America. The firm alleged in court filings that the plan was the result of “political interference” by William Perry Pendley, then-Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management and former head of the Western States Legal Foundation, a public interest law firm focused on preserving property rights that frequently litigates against Advocates for the West. Advocates for the West accused former Acting Director Pendley of overruling local Bureau staff in approving the plan. 2

As part of this litigation, the firm and other plaintiffs argued that Pendley was unlawfully designated as acting director of the Bureau without Senate confirmation and that any decisions issued on his authority were void. In a separate lawsuit, a federal judge in Montana ruled that Pendley was not the lawful acting director of the agency and that decisions taken under his authority were open to legal challenge. 3

Lawsuits Against Trump Administration

In 2019, Advocates for the West won a ruling blocking the Trump administration’s revisions to the Bureau of Land Management’s sage grouse protection plan. Existing Bureau rules required substantial buffer zones protecting the Western prairie bird’s breeding areas, called “leks,” which precluded the use of millions of acres of lands for cattle ranching or energy development. The Trump administration proposed aligning federal sage grouse protections with looser restrictions that had been implemented by various Western states. Advocates for the West challenged the move, and in 2019, a federal judge in Idaho ruled for the firm’s clients, finding that the Bureau of Land Management had not adequately considered species impacts in approving the new rules. 4

Representing the Idaho Conservation League, the Advocates for the West successfully opposed the development of a gold mine that the Trump administration had approved near Kilgore, Idaho. In May 2020, a federal judge revoked the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of the mine, killing the project. 5 The firm also sued to block oil and gas leases on lands in southeast Utah that had previously been part of the Bear Ears National Monument. 6

In January 2021, Advocates for the West sued to block the Bureau of Land Management’s approval of the Northern Corridor Highway, a proposed four-lane highway running for four miles through the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area in southwest Utah. The firm, representing the environmentalist organization Conserve Southwest Utah, argued that the highway would impact the habitat of the desert tortoise, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, and violate a 1996 agreement limiting development in the Red Cliffs area. The state and local residents argued that the highway was necessary to prevent failures of local transportation networks in the face of expected triple-digit population growth in Washington County, Utah. Advocates for the West attorney Todd Tucci vowed to lobby the Biden administration to reverse the highway’s approval. 7

Founding and People

Advocates for the West was founded in 2003 by Laird J. Lucas, a Yale-educated lawyer who had previously been a litigator with the Idaho-based Western Watersheds Project. In an interview, Lucas described Advocates for the West as “a kind of legal SWAT team,” taking on industry-funded firms “that throw lots and lots of lawyers at an issue.” 8


  1. Lisa Young. “Conservation groups file suit against Bureau of Land Management plan for western Colorado.” Delta County (Colorado) Independent. September 22, 2020. Accessed January 29, 2021.
  2. Lisa Young. “Conservation groups file suit against Bureau of Land Management plan for western Colorado.” Delta County (Colorado) Independent. September 22, 2020. Accessed January 29, 2021.
  3. Samantha Wright. “After A Judge Ruled He’s Serving Illegally, Trump Appointee Defends His Role In Boise.” Boise State Public Radio. October 19, 2020. Accessed January 29, 2021.
  4. Steve Davies. “Judge halts implementation of Bureau of Land Management sage-grouse plans.” AgriPulse. October 16, 2019. Accessed January 29, 2021.
  5. “Kilgore Mine Exploration in Centennial Mountains.” Advocates for the West. Accessed January 29, 2021.
  6. “Conservation group sues over federal oil, gas leases in Utah.” Associated Press. February 8, 2019. Accessed January 29, 2021.
  7. Mori Kessler. “Federal agencies approve right of way for Northern Corridor; opposition vows to continue fighting project.” St. George (Utah) News. January 14, 2021. Accessed January 29, 2021.
  8. Steve Bunk. “Lawyer Laird Lucas on how and why he fights for the West.” High Country News. November 2, 2011. Accessed January 29, 2021.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: November 1, 2002

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $1,371,770 $1,188,511 $1,094,271 $18,502 N $609,263 $756,685 $4,319 $115,200
    2016 Dec Form 990 $907,438 $940,274 $904,135 $14,380 N $619,844 $285,644 $666 $96,000
    2015 Dec Form 990 $934,068 $938,514 $933,805 $15,930 N $711,719 $221,049 $1,087 $155,405 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $681,493 $852,549 $933,204 $11,033 N $568,986 $111,630 $1,293 $97,519 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $1,453,990 $723,895 $1,104,553 $11,326 N $519,052 $934,056 $882 $58,906 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $582,197 $750,808 $377,127 $14,316 N $455,408 $119,308 $4,223 $75,000 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $902,271 $879,441 $538,364 $6,942 N $496,056 $402,079 $4,301 $75,000 PDF
    2010 Dec Form 990 $535,217 $745,362 $518,714 $10,122 N $433,645 $90,186 $11,386 $75,000 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Advocates for the West

    PO BOX 1612
    Boise, ID 83701-1612