Allie Rosenbluth, Rogue Climate
In this edition of Client Voices, I interviewed Allie Rosenbluth, the Campaigns Director at Rogue Climate, a long-time Crag partner working towards energy justice in Southern Oregon. We discuss Allie’s work and her passion for community-based organizing fighting for a more just, equitable, and sustainable energy future.
Maryland to Oregon – A Path to Community Organizing
Allie grew up on the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States, sailing, crabbing, and fishing in its protected waters. Growing up on the Bay, Allie was deeply aware of environmental issues and the impacts of a changing climate.
While a student at William & Mary, Allie learned there was a liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminal proposed in the Bay just fifteen minutes from where her uncle lived. She immediately started organizing on her college campus. She wanted to help more people understand the harm of fracked gas and LNG and inspire them to get involved in the fight to stop the terminal. The project would impact not only the health of the Bay but also the people who depended on it and who held a cherished place for it in their lives.
Several years later, after moving to Southern Oregon, she learned about another proposed LNG terminal in Coos Bay, near her new home. This estuary was just as special as the one she grew up in. Coos Bay is home to beds of eelgrass, oysters and Dungeness crab that support local communities. Knowing how important it was to get involved, Allie started volunteering with Rogue Climate in 2015. Allie was hired on full-time as a Community Organizer for Rogue Climate in 2016. Since then, she has organized against the Jordan Cove LNG terminal and pipeline, mentored and supported environmental youth leaders, and organized for energy justice throughout Southern Oregon.
Building a Future of Energy Justice
As Campaigns Director, Allie works on a variety of campaigns and initiatives focused on long-term energy justice as well as meeting the immediate needs of communities in Southern Oregon. Last summer, Rogue Climate experienced climate change firsthand when the Alameda fire swept through Southern Oregon, burning thousands of homes and buildings including Rogue Climate’s own office. Since then, Rogue has been operating a mutual aid site in Phoenix, Oregon, to support people displaced by the fire and help them through the process of rebuilding and returning home.
Allie believes this experience raises important questions climate organizers will have to think about going into a future impacted by climate change: “How do we organize when we are experiencing the impacts of climate change firsthand? And how do we make sure that the most vulnerable people – people of color, Indigenous people, low-income folks, rural folks, and elders – are being supported so that they can thrive through whatever comes our way?”
Rogue Climate’s work offers a possible answer to these questions by simultaneously addressing people’s immediate needs through programs like mutual aid sites while fighting for long-term energy justice at the state level. This year, Rogue Climate is focused on helping pass three historic state climate policies as part of the Oregon Clean Energy Opportunity Campaign. The three bills focus on reducing energy costs, supporting healthy home upgrades for low-income families, and requiring 100% renewable energy by 2040 while creating jobs in clean energy projects across Oregon.
Each of these campaigns ties into the multi-faceted definition of energy justice that Allie and others at Rogue Climate believe in. Rogue Climate defines energy justice as energy that is produced in a way that does not harm the health and well-being of communities or the climate. It also means that everybody has access to affordable and reliable energy and that energy systems promote justice and equity for those who are most harmed by our current energy system.
A Community-Centered Role
Allie’s passion for working with people is apparent the moment you meet her. Before Covid-19 transitioned her work to remote, Allie traveled to each county impacted by the Jordan Cove LNG project for at least a week out of every month, sharing meals and roofs with concerned community members. “I feel very lucky that there are so many amazing, passionate people in this movement, and spending time with them is something that recharges me.”
Another important part of Allie’s role is helping lead and mentor the next generation of climate leaders through Rogue’s youth organizing programs. The first campaign she worked on for Rogue Climate was supporting a youth team putting together a Climate and Energy Action Plan for the City of Ashland. “Young people have such a clear vision of the world that they want to see, and they are figuring out what they want to do to get it there,” she said. “Youth are powerful leaders and have taught me so many new things about organizing.” Supporting that vision of a better world is something that brings joy and renewed energy to the campaigns Allie works on.
The Fight Against Jordan Cove LNG
Allie has been deeply involved in the campaign against Jordan Cove LNG since she started working with Rogue Climate. For nearly two decades, communities in Southern Oregon have pushed back against energy companies like Pembina attempting to construct an LNG terminal and pipeline in the Coos Bay Estuary in order to export fracked gas abroad. Rogue Climate’s organizing has been fundamental in halting the project and bringing people from a broad range of backgrounds into the campaign. Fighting the Jordan Cove LNG project is familiar territory, bringing Allie back to her first days of campus organizing at William & Mary. Allie described how as an organizer, she keeps people engaged in a multi year, David versus Goliath campaign like Jordan Cove LNG.
“My role and my passion are showing folks that if we join together and speak out against projects that are bad for our communities, we have the power together to create change. My work is about moving our collective action towards a clear strategy and making sure that people understand that their participation, whether it’s in a city council meeting, or writing a public comment to a state agency, or showing up a rally in Salem, really does make a difference. It’s hard work, but it pays off and we are seeing that right now.”
Allie also described the powerful way the campaign against Jordan Cove LNG has brought together a broad coalition of people from across the political spectrum.
“Whether you are coming to this fight because you care about the climate or you care about your favorite fishing spot, there is so much that people share in common. This campaign has emphasized that when we work together with people we maybe don’t agree with on everything, we can make huge change.”
Partnering with Crag
Crag has worked with Rogue Climate and the coalition against Jordan Cove LNG for over ten years, supporting litigation on multiple land use permitting cases related to the project. Last year, Crag challenged five local land use permits related to the project. Most recently in February 2021, the federal government rejected a request to override Oregon’s decision to deny the project, bringing the coalition one step closer to blocking the project permanently. Allie reflected on the impact having Crag as a partner had on the campaign.
“If Crag was not there to support communities who are fighting these land use permits, I think we would be in a very different place on Jordan Cove LNG. Having not only Crag’s support but their dedication and commitment to listening to communities and being client-led is so critical to a successful campaign. It has been vital to stopping Jordan Cove LNG.”
Through the many different campaigns Allie is involved with, she helps bridge the space between where people are and the vision for change they hope to create in their community. Allie and the other organizers at Rogue Climate are working to ensure that the voices of community members are heard in decision-making processes and that ultimately, communities are the ones determining their own climate and energy futures.