Mose Buchele

Senior Reporter, StateImpact Texas

Mose Buchele is the Austin-based broadcast reporter for KUT's NPR partnership StateImpact Texas . He has been on staff at KUT 90.5  since 2009, covering local and state issues.  Mose has also worked as a blogger on politics and an education reporter at his hometown paper in Western Massachusetts. He holds masters degrees in Latin American Studies and Journalism from UT Austin.

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Energy & Environment
10:38 am
Thu April 16, 2015

How Austin Gardeners Can Unearth the Mysteries of Their Own Backyards

Clarence Jackson, an Environmental Scientest from the EPA, tests soil with an X-ray fluorescence analyzer as a part of The Soil Kitchen, a three-day opportunity for backyard gardeners to receive free soil tests in Austin.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

The City of Austin recently offered free soil testing so people could see what contaminants and nutrients they have in their yards. But, so many people wanted the testing – myself included – that the city was overwhelmed with samples.

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Energy & Environment
4:01 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

Texas Haze, The ‘War on Coal,’ and How Lawsuits Shape Environmental Policy

Photographer Melton says that there are days at Big Bend when haze, partially from coal power plants, makes it tough to photograph.
Mary Ann Melton

One week remains for the public to comment on an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to reduce smog in one of Texas most beloved national parks. The EPA's plan to limit so-called 'regional haze' is one of a slew of new air quality rules that have critics accusing the Agency of waging a 'war on coal.' The reality, of course, is more complicated.

To see how, look no farther than the hazy skies over Far West Texas.

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Energy & Environment
4:16 pm
Fri April 10, 2015

How 'Miss Piggy' Helps Scientists Study Oil and Gas Field Emissions from Above

Researchers fly in planes over Texas to gather data about pollution resulting from oil and gas extraction.
Mose Buchele/KUT News

This week, a team of scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – NOAA – has been flying high over Texas, gathering data.

The flights are part of a project to find out exactly how emissions from the state’s sprawling oil and gas fields pollute the air we breathe.

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Austin
9:27 am
Tue April 7, 2015

Sex, Drugs and Plant Biology: Why Everything is Covered in Green Gunk

This time of year the oak trees in Austin shed their pollen, covering the city in a sort of green gunk.
KUT News

Every spring clouds of green pollen descend on Austin, bringing misery to allergy-suffering public radio reporters like me and frustrating drivers like DeAunderia Bowens.

"You know I just got my car washed and literally got up the next morning and my car was covered with this green stuff!" she said on her way to work. "If I had a green car it would be alright, but clearly not working on a grey vehicle.”

This time of year the stuff is oak pollen, but why does its get everywhere? The answer might make you look at trees a little differently.

It turns out we are surrounded by tree sex.

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Energy & Environment
8:01 am
Sun March 22, 2015

Texans Can Expect Vibrant Spring Wildflowers, Expert Says, Though They May Arrive a Bit Late

Experts are anticipating a colorful wildflower season in Texas this year.
Callie Hernandez/KUT News

Experts say this wildflower season might be one of the best in years, but we’ll have to wait a little longer than usual to find out.

That's because a cooler-than-normal March has postponed the blooming season. 

Texas
7:53 am
Thu March 12, 2015

Will Texas Abolish Daylight Saving Time?

A map of daylight saving time use across the world — countries in blue still use the time-switch, those in orange previously used DST and those in red have never enacted a time-switch.
Wikimedia Commons

Like many across the world, you may have come into work late this week because of daylight saving time. Yesterday, lawmakers heard testimony on a bill that could end the “spring forward” clock change once and for all in Texas.

State Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Canton) says there are a lot of myths about daylight saving time. He says farmers don’t really care for it, and that it doesn’t seem to conserve energy. He even says there are studies showing more car accidents and heart attacks following the clock change.

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Energy & Environment
2:05 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

Here's Why People Are Blaming Refineries For Higher Gas Prices

Drivers have noticed the cost of gasoline inching up lately.
Eric Reyna/KUT News

You might have noticed gas prices inching up, but crude oil prices are still waaaay lower than they were a year ago – so what’s behind the jump in gasoline?  Usually, higher prices at the pump are linked to the higher cost of crude oil. But at this time of year, people blame refineries.  

"What we’re seeing is that strong relationship between gas and oil fade," says Patrick Dehane, an oil analyst with Gasbuddy.com. "It is… I wouldn’t say a nasty breakup. But the two are becoming more distant because of refining.” 

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Austin
9:31 am
Thu March 5, 2015

This Dam Holds in Lady Bird Lake. So When Will It Get ‘Essential’ Repairs?

The city of Austin is struggling to find a long-term solution for the repairs needed to fix Longhorn Dam.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The poor condition of the dam that holds in the waters of Austin’s beloved Lady Bird Lake continues to vex city officials.  Emails obtained in a public information request reveal challenges the city faced in performing maintenance on Longhorn Dam, which crosses the Colorado River beneath Pleasant Valley Road. Documents tell of water lost through the dam’s gates that could potentially stay in upstream reservoirs, and show city departments struggling to assign responsibility for the structure and plan a long-term solution.

Austin Energy, the city-owned electric utility, and the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) have long known about the need for work on the dam. Austin Energy is the city department that operates the structure. The LCRA operates dams upstream from Austin and coordinates with Austin Energy when they release water downstream.

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Austin
3:56 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

How Many Austinites Will Register Their Short-Term Rentals Before SXSW?

A map shows the parts of town where no more permits are available for non-owner occupied short-term rental spaces. Those are the spaces colored in red.
Credit City of Austin

South by Southwest is coming up. That means a crush of visitors and extra cash in the pockets of people renting space to those visitors.  But the City of Austin has a message for potential short-term landlords: You've got to register your home by Feb. 28th if you hope to rent the space legally.

"Before every major event we see a number of applicants that come into our office," says Marcus Elliot with the Austin Code Department. "They're really interested in that last-minute rush to try to get the license." 

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Energy & Environment
9:35 am
Wed February 11, 2015

EPA Team Looking At Relationship Between Quakes and Disposal Well

Philip Dellinger is head of the EPA’s Underground Injection Control Section for Region 6 in Dallas.
Credit Philip Issa/KUT News

The earthquakes that have shaken Dallas and Irving, Texas the last several months have people looking into whether oil and gas activity in the area plays a role.  Some of those people work at the Environmental Protection Agency. But EPA researchers say they’re not getting the data they’ve requested from Texas state oil and gas regulators to investigate the link.

Philip Dellinger is head of the EPA’s Underground Injection Control Section in Dallas.  At a conference of the Groundwater Protection Council on Tuesday, he showed early results from a study his team conducted on earthquakes around Irving.

The group looked at the use of waste water disposal wells closest to Irving earthquakes. Dellinger does not necessarily believe the recent quakes are related to disposal wells, where waste water from oil and gas drilling is pumped underground. But these types of wells have caused other earthquakes, so his team wanted to see what wells were close to the Irving events.

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Energy & Environment
11:55 am
Fri January 30, 2015

Financial Markets Betting On Keystone XL Construction

Credit shannonpatrick17/flickr

The financial markets may be betting that the Keystone XL pipeline is a done deal.

The U.S. House and Senate have now both passed bills to force approval of the controversial pipeline.  The southern leg of the project already delivers oil from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf Coast. But approval of the full build-out would link existing pipe to the Canadian border, allowing more crude from the tar sands of Canada to reach Texas refineries via Cushing.

President Obama has vowed to veto the bills, but one expert says the fate of the project may already be written in futures contracts for crude oil.

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Energy & Environment
1:28 pm
Mon January 26, 2015

Quiz: Beer, Coffee, or Crude Oil? Sometimes It's Hard to Tell

Credit Amanda/flickr

Anyone who spends time looking at how oil is drilled for and refined around the world comes to notice something strange. The names people give to different types of crude oil can sound surprisingly delicious.

In reporting on the role that benchmark oil prices play in moving the price of gasoline,  I was introduced to one person who had made a game out of it. Rice University student Aruni Ranaweera created the quiz "Beer, Coffee, Crude" to test her classmates' ability to distinguish between types of crude, types of beer, and blends of coffee.  It's harder than is sounds. Go ahead, crack open a can of Tia Juana Light and give it a shot.

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Energy & Environment
11:12 am
Wed January 21, 2015

Texas Earthquake Risk Levels To Increase In New USGS Map

The current map delineates "non-tectonic" quake activity in areas where man-made earthquakes have been studied.
Courtesy of USGS

A seismic hazard map is essentially what it sounds like: a map that shows the potential for earthquakes in certain areas. The maps give people a sense of the likelihood of earthquakes occurring, where they might occur, and how strong they might be.  The maps can influence everything from public policy to building codes to insurance rates.

“They govern hundreds of billions of dollars in constructions and insurance cost every year,” says Mark Peterson, project chief of the USGS’s National Seismic Hazard Mapping project.

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Energy & Environment
12:34 pm
Mon January 19, 2015

Why Mom-and-Pop Gas Stations Are Often First to Slash Gas Prices

Al Mak is a manager at Pronto Food Mart. They offer some of the lowest gas prices in central Austin.
Credit Mose Buchele/KUT News

By now, the initial surprise over low gas prices has worn off. But people looking for the very best deals might have noticed a trend: Small, unbranded gas stations are often the first to cut prices when the price of crude oil falls. Many continue to stay competitive even when larger brand-name stations start cutting their prices as well.

Take Pronto Food Mart. It’s a tiny neighborhood gas station that was one of the first places in Austin to slash prices. It still offers the cheapest gas in Central Austin according to GasBuddy.com.

Shopkeepers at Pronto pride themselves on being on the front lines of the war against high gas prices.

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Energy & Environment
5:05 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Earthquakes Are New, But Not Unique, To Dallas Area

Credit OLIVER BERG/DPA/LANDOV

People in Dallas were surprised by a swarm of small earthquakes that started shaking the city a couple of days ago. There have been 11 by last count.  And the quakes, though new to the Dallas area, are just the most recent in a major upsurge in earthquakes in Texas over the last few years.

Earthquakes were pretty much unheard of in the Dallas area until 2008. Since then there have been a lot of these swarms of quakes. In Irving, Texas, where this new cluster is located, there have been more than 50 in the last several years, according to the city manager. This current swarm started around September.

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Energy & Environment
10:11 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Study Says Hunting With Steel Shot Just as Effective as Lead

A two-year study compared the lethality of traditional lead shot versus steel shot while hunting mourning doves, examining the environmental impact of both ammunitions.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

The use of lead ammunition for hunting has long worried environmental groups. They've  even tried suing the Environmental Protection Agency to push it to regulate lead ammo. But some hunters have been resistant to using steel bullets, saying they are less effective.  A new study takes a look at whether that's backed up by fact. 

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department looked at the effectiveness of lead versus steel shot in dove hunting in different parts of the state. 

The double-blind study suggested a switch from lead shot to steel shot wouldn’t limit hunters' dove season harvests. Corey Mason is a biologist with the department and – despite the study’s finding that nearly 73 percent of hunters couldn’t discern between the two ammunitions – he says he’s heard from hunters that steel shot doesn’t do the job as well as lead.

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Energy & Environment
12:15 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

After Scores of Quakes, Researchers Head to Irving to Study Surge in Seismic Activity

This map from the USGS shows the approximate location of a recent quake near Irving, Texas.
Credit courtesy of USGS

Updated 1/6/14 with more comment from Railroad Commission and information on Tuesday January 6th earthquake.

A team of seismologists headed to the North Texas town of Irving Monday.  Like some other Texas towns, Irving has experienced scores of small earthquakes lately, 20 since last September, including a magnitude 3.5 quake that struck on January 6th. And the city is hoping to figure out what’s behind the shaking.

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Energy & Environment
1:21 pm
Thu January 1, 2015

Report: Texas Not Doing Enough to Keep Track of Its Water

A report from Texas A&M found fracking isn't such a drain on Texas' water resources, but suggested the state revamp water rights policies.
Lower Colorado River Authority

Texas is not doing a good enough job of tracking and managing its water resources, according to research from Texas A&M University.

Researchers looked at water used for the H2O-intensive drilling process called fracking in Texas, and how the practice could be draining resources. They found that only a small fraction of the state’s water supply goes to fracking, but tracking that water use itself is devilishly difficult. 

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Texas
12:14 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Where Are All of Texas' Christmas Trees Coming From?

Bastrop County produced the most Christmas trees in Texas last year, but the industry in Texas is still dwarfed by states like North Carolina and Oregon.
Via, flickr.com/photos/aquariawintersoul

A Christmas tree strapped to the roof of a car, or shimmering in a cheerfully decorated living room is a common sight this time of year.  The USDA estimates the Christmas tree industry to be a $14.5 billion enterprise. While states like Oregon, North Carolina and Michigan lead in harvests, a new USDA survey shows Central Texas leads the state in production, but where are those trees coming from?

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Energy & Environment
10:32 am
Fri December 19, 2014

After a Lark of a Year, Austin Birders Prepare for Annual Christmas Count

The red-legged honeycreeper was one of three rare species found in the state this year by Texas ornithologists.

The annual Austin Christmas bird count is happening this Saturday, when bird enthusiasts, or birders, take a census of what birds they can spot across the entire Austin area. So far, 2014 has already been an unusual year for bird sightings in Texas.

Three species of birds never seen in the state before were spotted this year in Texas. 

Those were a red-legged honeycreeper, a gray-crowned rosy-finch and a pair of common cranes – which, as the name might suggest, are indeed common, but they’re typically a European species.

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