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
9:29 am
Tue October 21, 2014

Voters Cast Ballots in First Ever Push to Ban Fracking in Texas

A natural gas well is drilled in the city of Denton, Texas.
Mose Buchele/KUT

From StateImpact Texas:

For Cathy McMullen, the reasons to ban fracking in Denton are as obvious at the drilling rig that sits on the corner of Masch Branch and Hampton Road on the northwest side of town. It’s big, it’s noisy, and she believes it vents toxic emissions into the community. The site is, however, not very close to any houses.

“I’ll show you where this exact same thing was sitting by someone’s home,” she says.

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Oil
12:50 pm
Tue October 14, 2014

Will Low Oil Prices Rattle The Texas Economy?

The benchmark price of oil is lower than it has been in four years.
Photo by MIRA OBERMAN/AFP/Getty Images

From StateImpact Texas:

The benchmark price of U.S. crude hovers around $85 a barrel. That’s lower than it's been in four years and $15 below where it was a year ago. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Economic growth has stalled internationally – This has slowing the demand for oil, but oil supplies are increasing thanks to the shale boom in the U.S. and the fact that OPEC – the cartel that sets prices internationally – has not cut production.
  •  The dollar is strong – The higher valuation of U.S. currency means that oil prices are down but –because the dollar’s also at a four-year high – the oil is still pricey, driving down demand.
  • Speculators are betting on prices to drop – Weekly production of oil is expected to reach a 45-year high next year, the market’s going bearish, driving the prices down.

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Healthcare
10:05 am
Tue October 7, 2014

Flu Vaccine Delivery Delayed to Some Texas Providers

Some health providers are receiving the flu vaccine later than usual this year.
Credit Photo by Sanofi Pasteur http://www.flickr.com/photos/sanofi-pasteur/

Students and employees at the University of Texas at Austin will be able to get flu shots on campus today. But the vaccine has arrived later than usual.

“The campaign was planned to kick off September the 23, but we were unable to get sufficient vaccine at that time, so our first clinic was October second,” says Sherry Bell an outreach coordinator with UT Austin health services.

The University is one of many places in the US and Canada to see delays in the delivery of the vaccine this year.  The hold up has been blamed on regulatory action against some vaccine manufacturers, and the slow growth of one strain of flu.

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Austin
4:15 pm
Sat October 4, 2014

Austin Patient 'Does Not Meet the Risk Profile' For Ebola

Credit Todd Wiseman/Phil Moyer via Texas Tribune

  Early Saturday morning a patient was transferred to Seton Medical Center Austin with "some symptoms that could be associated with the Ebola virus." According to a press release from the hospital, "the patient had recently traveled in West Africa, but not in one of the affected countries." 

After a review of the patient's history, lab testing and an examination, the Texas Department of State Health and Human Services decided that "the patient does not meet the risk profile for Ebola testing."   

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oil boom
3:17 pm
Fri September 26, 2014

Will Mexican Drilling Bring Texas Profit?

The oil and gas rich Eagle Ford Shale formation straddles both sides of the Texas / Mexico border.
Credit Eddie Seal, Texas Tribune

  Today, members of the state House Energy Resources Committee met in the Rio Grande Valley town of Edinburg to discuss how a partial privatization of Mexico’s oil and gas sector could impact the Texas economy. 

Until this year, drilling in Mexico was run by Pemex, a state-owned company.  A change in Mexican law has now partially opened the county to foreign business. That could be a big opportunity for Texas companies familiar with the oil and gas rich Eagle Ford shale that straddles the border.

Some estimates have already said a shale boom in Mexico could grow the Texas economy by tens of billions of dollars. Others say it's too early to tell. 

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Energy & Environment
12:11 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Fewer Atlantic Hurricanes Hint at Summer's Continuously Elusive El Niño

Hurricane Sandy, pictured, churns off the east coast on October 28, 2012 in the Atlantic Ocean.
NASA, via Getty Images

From StateImpact Texas:

There’s a good chance of an El Niño weather pattern forming by the end of the year. That could be good for easing or even ending the Texas drought. But it’s not a sure thing.

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environment
5:03 pm
Tue September 23, 2014

What Does Fossil Fuel Divestment Mean For Texas?

Divestment has become a popular topic on college campuses and some boardrooms.But it will likely have trouble taking hold in oil rich parts of the state.
Credit PHOTO BY MIRA OBERMAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGE

This week in New York, the UN Climate Summit is underway.

The Rockefeller Foundation made news with the announcement that it will divest close to a billion dollars from fossil fuels. Here in Austin, University of Texas President Bill Powers gave his State of the University address Monday. But in contrast to the news from New York, Powers thanked "heavens" for the oil wealth provided to UT by its land holdings, and celebrated the fracking revolution as "good news" for the University.

The disconnect between the two messages leads one to wonder about the role of the divestment campaign in oil-rich parts of the country. Could divestment in other parts of the country grow to the point where it disrupts Texas' fossil fuel economy? By contrast, could divestment ever catch on here?

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Austin Energy
1:32 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

How a Cooler Summer Cost Austin Energy $16.5 Million

Austin Energy earns 40 percent of its revenue in the summer months.
flickr.com/pyxopotamus

Aside from the month of August, this summer has been relatively cool as far as Texas summers go.

With that reprieve from stifling heat came an unanticipated gap in revenue for utility providers, and it's forced Austin Energy – which earns nearly half of its revenue in the hottest months of the year – to reexamine its budget.

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Energy & Environment
11:26 am
Tue September 16, 2014

Research Links Drilling Activities to Water Contamination in North Texas

The study explored different scenarios that may have accounted for elevated methane in the groundwater.
Courtesy of Thomas Darrah, OSU

For years, some residents of Parker County in North Texas have believed that nearby gas drilling was responsible for high levels of methane in neighborhood water wells. Research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences appears to back that up.

The study looked at water contamination in Texas and Pennsylvania. It suggests that faulty cement jobs on drilling wells could be at fault in North Texas. Cement is poured between the rock wall and the steel tubing of oil and gas wells to block contaminants.

“We think either there isn’t enough cement in this location or more likely there are cracks or imperfections in that cement. That’s what allowed the strong gas to move up through the well and then out into peoples drinking water,” says Robert Jackson, a professor of environmental sciences at Stanford, who co-authored of the study.

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Texas
2:55 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

Three Earthquakes Rattle Texas So Far This Week

Regulators are trying to craft rules to respond to the dramatic uptick in quakes
Credit OLIVER BERG / DPA/LANDOV

It’s been a shaky week in Texas with two small earthquakes rattling the Dallas-Fort Worth area and another slightly more powerful quake detected in South Texas.

On Sunday, the first quake measuring magnitude 2.4 struck near Arlington. It prompted some residents to call 9-1-1 after feeling their houses shake and hearing “explosions,” according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

Earthquakes are often accompanied by loud “booms,” something that has become a source of anxiety in newly quake-prone parts of the state.

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Energy & Environment
12:35 pm
Thu September 11, 2014

El Nino Flies Under the Radar in Summer, But Could It Still Bring a Wetter Texas Winter?

El Nino hasn't brought the wet summer promised by some meteorologists, but it could bring Texas rains this fall and winter.
Huma Munir/KUT News

Earlier this year Lower Colorado River Authority meteorologist Bob Rose, liked what he was seeing in the forecast.  

“I’m optimistic that we will get into a pattern of above normal rainfall this fall continuing into next winter and possibly into next spring as well,” he said in April.

Bur since this April things changed.

After much ado, the El Nino predicted by many meteorologists hasn’t quite showed itself in the form rainfall yet. While there’s still a chance it could strengthen before the summer’s end, it’s not likely it will meet its initial forecasted fury. 

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Energy & Environment
3:43 pm
Wed September 10, 2014

Over One Hundred Texas Birds Could Be at Risk From Climate Change

The endangered golden-cheeked warbler could be at even greater risk, depending on what climate change does to its habitat.
Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife

From StateImpact Texas:

Over three hundred species of birds are at risk from climate change in North America, according to a report from the National Audubon Society. Many of them can be found in Texas.

Brian Trusty, Executive Director of Audubon Texas, says the study has identified over one hundred Texas species that run the risk of losing significant habitat due to climate change (see below for details on this list).

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Texas
10:29 am
Tue September 9, 2014

How Advances in Tech and Research Could Help Battle Future Drought

Climatologists could one day predict the viability of soil by measuring and forecasting moisture levels.
Courtesy of the Lower Colorado River Authority

A couple years ago UT Professor Zong-Liang Yang was at a conference on extreme weather in the Netherlands. It was 2012, just one year after the worst single-year drought in Texas history.

When it came to discussing extreme weather, Texas seemed like a good place to be.  He suggested to colleagues that their next conference should take place in the Lone Star State.

Two years later, he and dozens of some of the world’s leading climate experts from 10 different countries have descended upon UT-Austin to talk about improving our ability to forecast and prepare for extreme weather. They seem confident that they're making progress.

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Energy & Environment
1:20 pm
Tue September 2, 2014

Why Closing a Power Plant Could Be Part of Austin's Water Solution

The city is moving to shut down Decker Power Plant to lower citywide emissions.
Mose Buchele/KUT

From StateImpact Texas:

The funny thing about Walter E. Long Lake is that most people don't know it exists.

The lake, tucked into a rural-feeling part of Northeast Austin is big, by Austin standards. It can hold more water than Austin's two central city lakes -- Lake Austin and Lady Bird Lake -- combined. It was created to host a power plant, which it's done for for nearly 50 years. That's how it got its other name: Decker Lake.

But last week, Austin's city council approved a plan to wean Austin off Decker Power Plant electricity, opting to shutter the plant to lower citywide carbon emissions. If that happens, the lake could serve as Austin’s new city reservoir.

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Energy & Environment
8:46 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Lawmakers Hear Proposals for Confronting Man-Made Quakes

After a surge in earthquakes across Texas over the last several years, state regulators are considering their options.
Credit Oliver Berg DPA/LANDOV

From StateImpact Texas: 

After a surge in earthquakes across Texas over the last several years, state regulators are considering their options. On Monday, the House Subcommittee on Seismic Activity heard some of those options.

Many of the quakes are likely caused by wastewater disposal wells, where the liquid waste from oil and gas drilling is pumped back into the ground. The Railroad Commission of Texas is the agency that regulates the state’s oil and gas industry, and it is proposing new rules for those wells.

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KUT's Summer School
4:24 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

The Secret of Comedy Success? Learning to Fail.

KUT's Mose Buchele on stage at the Velveeta Room in downtown Austin.
Terrence Henry/KUT News

On Thursday night, KUT's Mose Buchele found himself in front of a microphone, on stage at the Velveeta Room, a comedy club on Sixth Street in Austin.

"How did I get here?" he wondered. 

This summer, KUT reporters have been going to class, so to speak, to learn new skills or crafts from experts around Austin. So when Mose decided he would try his hand at stand up comedy, he called Brian Gaar for some advice. 

Take a listen to what happened:

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LCRA
8:25 am
Thu August 21, 2014

LCRA Delays Vote on Water Plan

Extreme drought and releases to farmers have lowered levels in Lakes Buchanan and Travis (pictured) in Central Texas. Now a state agency is saying more study is needed into how the reservoirs are managed.
Courtesy of LCRA

Water from the Highland Lakes is important to everyone in Central Texas — from urban Austinites to rural rice farmers downstream. Wednesday, the board of the Lower Colorado River Authority was set to vote on a much-delayed plan to manage that water, but the authority's board postponed that vote to gather more public input. 

The proposed plan, which would ensure that more water stays in the lakes in times of drought, is widely supported by upstream stakeholders, namely the City of Austin.  But it’s unpopular downstream with agricultural interests that would likely see themselves cut off from water more often. The plan must ultimately be approved by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

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KUT's Summer School
4:10 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

We Took an Acting Class With the Dead Guy From 'Weekend at Bernie's'

Mose Buchele (R) learned Terry Kiser (L) is most famous for playing dead – but the veteran character actor is anything but.
Joe Capraro/KUT

Every Friday this summer, KUT's gone back to class for our Summer School series.  KUT reporters are learning a craft or skill from people around town who are experts in that field.

So when KUT’s Mose Buchele found out that a veteran actor from one of his favorite slapstick comedies of the ‘80s was teaching in Austin – he couldn’t resist setting up a lesson. 

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Energy & Environment
11:04 am
Wed July 9, 2014

A New Proposal For a Coal-Free Austin Could End the City's LCRA Partnership

Some say the city should cut ties with the Fayette Power Plant. Others say a binding partnership between the city and the LCRA legally prohibits any dissolution.
KUT News

Today, the group tasked with figuring out how to wean Austin off carbon dioxide-emitting coal power is scheduled to vote on its recommendations, and some members of that group think they  have found a new approach to the biggest road block between Austin and a coal-free future: the Fayette Coal Plant.

Austin Energy owns the plant along with the Lower Colorado River Authority, and gets about 20 percent of its electricity from it. While selling off the plant or retiring it completely has been a long held dream of city officials and environmentalists, city staff has warned that it could be prohibitively expensive and legally tricky. Previous plans to sell off that stake, or shut down the plant have also been opposed by the LCRA.

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Energy & Environment
11:53 am
Mon July 7, 2014

Is the Oil Boom Helping Prices at the Pump?

Analyst Tom Kloza estimates the oil boom helped keep gas prices below $4 per gallon.
flickr.com/photos/87913776@N00/

From StateImpact Texas:

  Texas is getting more oil out of the ground than is has since the great boom of the 1970s. The oil fields of North Dakota are, for the first time ever, producing over one million barrels a day. Across the country, the boom has lead to predictions that the US will overtake even Saudi Arabia in oil production by the end of the year.  But is all that drilling helping US consumers at the pump?

A quick look at the numbers before the long weekend would indicate not. Prices were about 20 cents per gallon higher than this time last year, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

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