Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends
Environment & Science

Election 2014: Why your vote for Controller matters to California's environment



On Broad Beach in Malibu, high tide not only wets sand but also retaining walls and broken down rock revetments. What happens next in homeowners' efforts to get sand trucked in here will go to the State Lands Commission - and the next Controller likely will weigh in on the problem.
On Broad Beach in Malibu, high tide not only wets sand but also retaining walls and broken down rock revetments. What happens next in homeowners' efforts to get sand trucked in here will go to the State Lands Commission - and the next Controller likely will weigh in on the problem.
Molly Peterson/KPCC

The most common question I’ve been asked about the statewide Controller race this election year is the same question I get every four years. “Wait, we have one?”

The inevitable follow-up question: “What does this person do?” Down-ballot races in California’s state election can seem like a tedious part of a the voting process. Most of us just don't take the time to research them. In 2010, the last time we elected statewide executives, 435,308 of those people who voted for Governor just didn’t bother to vote for anybody in the Controller race. 

But in addition to being the chief fiscal officer of the 8th-largest economy in the world, the Controller sits on something like 80 state commissions and boards. And if you’re interested in California’s environment, a biggie there is the State Lands Commission.

The State Lands Commission oversees roughly 4 million acres of submerged land and tidelands, holding them in trust for the public. Right now it's looking at policy alternatives to respond to sea level rise. It manage the state's offshore oil-drilling leases. It even gets authority over historical shipwrecks

Three issues coming before to the Lands Commission mean the Controller matters:  

Positions on these issues don’t really come up when it comes to the Controller race, though both Betty Yee and Ashley Swearengin have gone on the record to say they’re against fracking.