Q&A: U.S. House District 3 Kyle Tisdel


  • Name: Kyle Tisdel
  • Political Party: Democratic
  • Occupation: Public interest environmental attorney
  • City of residence: Taos
  • Relevant experience: Successful climate litigator fighting for people and communities living in the shadow of fossil fuel exploitation. Deep policy expertise. Not bought by wealthy individuals or corporations.
  • Education: B.A. from Michigan State University; J.D. from Vermont Law School
  • Campaign website: www.tisdelforcongress.com

1. What is your opinion of the coronavirus response packages passed by Congress and signed by President Trump? Is there anything you would have done differently?

Relief is critically needed to address the public health and economic crisis. Far more should have been invested in expanded testing and distribution of personal protective equipment to front-line workers. Relief should have been focused on working class Americans rather than wealthy corporations, including recurring relief payments, medical coverage and unemployment benefits.

2. What actions to restore the economy, if any, do you feel Congress should take once the outbreak has been contained?

Expanded, rapid testing is needed to ensure the safe return to public spaces. Economic recovery should be from the ground-up, and relief should be targeted for working people and small businesses, not Wall Street bailouts. We should use this moment to help transition our economy to align with the climate crisis.

3. What is your position regarding climate change? What actions should Congress take, if any, regarding the environment?

We are in a climate emergency, requiring dramatic actions to maintain a livable planet. Congress must manage the decline of the fossil fuels and help build the clean energy economy of tomorrow. Policy action should ensure justice and equity, and to rectify a legacy of exploitation.

4. What is your opinion on energy initiatives that have been introduced both on the federal and state level such as the Green New Deal and the New Mexico Energy Transition Act?

The GND recognizes the intersectional nature of the climate crisis, and that we cannot align with emission targets without deep structural transformation. The ETA appreciates the need for a just transition and sets needed RPS, though ignores the massive quantity of emissions from fossil fuel exploitation in New Mexico.

5. Fracking bans have been introduced in Congress by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and presidential candidate Joe Biden indicated in a debate he would support a ban. Where do you stand on the issue?

We need a fracking ban to protect people and communities living in the shadow of exploitation. Congress should also end the leasing of public lands, actively manage the decline of the fossil fuel economy to align with climate targets, while also providing funds to states like New Mexico to economically transition.

6. What is your position on the leasing of federal land for oil, gas and mineral development? Do you agree with the removal of energy development in a 10-mile radius around Chaco archaeological sites? Are there other areas of the state that should be considered for similar treatment?

We must end federal leasing of fossil fuels — which contributes almost 25% of all U.S. emissions — and protect the people and communities who have shouldered the burdens of exploitation for generations. I am the lead attorney in federal litigation to protect Chaco and surrounding communities.

7. What are the most important actions Congress should take regarding people now living illegally in the U.S.? What about for those who want to come in?

We must have comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for those already living and contributing to our communities. We should increase resources for the just handling of asylum seekers, and end programs of family separate, unjust detention, and indiscriminate deportation.

8. Do you believe the borders are secure enough? If not, what do you propose should be done to increase security?

I oppose Trump’s border wall and inhumane treatment of refugees. It is predicted there will be 700 million climate refugees by midcentury. Now is the time for immigration reforms that ensure fair and moral treatment of asylum seekers, and increased aid for climate mitigation to decrease pressure on our borders.

9. Do you favor a federal ban on the sale of military style semi-automatic rifles? If so, what would you do about the millions of such weapons now legally owned by American citizens? What other, if any, gun law reforms would you support?

Yes. The number of mass shootings has rapidly increased since the assault-weapons ban expired in 2004. We can protect 2nd Amendment rights for responsible gun owners, while instituting common-sense gun licensing requirements and closing loopholes that endanger our communities.

10.  Federal spending plays an important role in New Mexico’s economy. What should be done to increase other economic drivers here?

We must hold fossil fuel companies accountable for a legacy of exploitation, increasing jobs in well plugging and landscape restoration. Federal funds should help New Mexico meet revenue shortfalls and support economic transition to clean energy. We should reform subsidies to support family farms, cultivate restoration agriculture, and expand hemp production.

11. Congress passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement as a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement. Are there any other trade initiatives you’d like to see Congress pass if you’re elected?

All international trade agreements should expressly include provisions to promote climate action that aligns with warming limits, as well as labor and human rights standards to avoid a race-to-the-bottom and outsourcing. Congress should eliminate “fast-track” provisions that prevent amendments to trade deals.

12. Do you favor or oppose a national single payer health system?

I believe health care is a right, not a privilege. Medical expenses remain the largest cause of personal bankruptcy. I support Medicare for All, which will reduce medical costs and prescription drugs. We also must ensure access, and allow incentives like higher reimbursement rates for rural health care facilities.

13. Do you favor or oppose limits on late-term abortion, and do you believe tax dollars should or should not be used to fund abortions?

Women should have autonomy over their bodies, period. I support federal spending to expand access to health care. Funding limitations do not eliminate abortions, it makes abortions more dangerous, especially for those most vulnerable. I also support expanding the safety net and available services for mothers and children once born.

14. What should be done at the federal level to address the crisis of opioid addiction? Any other drugs?

I support increased funding to communities at the front-lines of the drug crisis, including expanded services for recovery and diversion programs instead of criminalization. Funding should also be available to support economic diversification and end the crisis of hopelessness at the core of addiction.

15. Why do you want to be a member of Congress?

We need members of Congress with the courage and vision to meet the climate crisis and transition away from fossil fuels, to preserve a livable planet for our children and to fight for justice and equity. There is tremendous opportunity for New Mexico to lead in the clean economy of tomorrow.

Personal background

1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens? No.

2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding? No.

3. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state? If so, explain. No.