Kyle Tisdel, a Taos attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center, announced Wednesday he is joining the crowded field of candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination for the 3rd Congressional District seat that Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., is vacating to run for the U.S. Senate.

“We are in a climate emergency, representing an existential threat to people across New Mexico, our country and the entire planet,” said Tisdel, who directs the climate and energy program for the nonprofit law firm. “The silence in this race on climate change has been deafening.”

Tisdel said he has been involved in legal battles “at the nexus of public lands and fossil fuel exploitation,” including efforts to protect the Chaco Canyon area’s ancient cultural sites from oil and gas extraction.

The candidate said he received a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Michigan State University and a law degree from Vermont Law School before spending several years at a private law firm. He left to volunteer with a humanitarian organization in rural India before moving to New Mexico, where Tisdel and his wife have three children.

Tisdel joins a field that includes Sandoval County Treasurer Laura M. Montoya, First Judicial District Attorney Marco Serna, Santa Fe lawyer Teresa Leger Fernandez, and former CIA agent and author Valerie Plame of Santa Fe.

Other announced candidates for the Democratic primary include state Rep. Joseph Sanchez of Alcalde, Santa Fe management consultant Rob Apodaca, former Navajo Nation presidential candidate Dineh Benally, Gavin Kaiser of Santa Cruz and Cameron Alton Chick Sr. of Rio Rancho.

New Mexico Democrats for Democracy founder Brett Kokinadis is running as a Republican.