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
11:22 am
Fri July 31, 2015

Study Aims to Predict Bird Deaths from Wind Turbines

A new study looks to predict deaths of species like the Golden Eagle as a result of colliding with wind turbines.
Wikimedia Commons

Texas leads the nation in wind power, but some environmentalists worry about bird deaths cause by wind turbines – typically, birds fly into the blades of the turbines.

Now, a new approach pioneered by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hopes to decrease those fatalities by trying to calculate the probability of bird-turbine collisions, while recognizing the inherent uncertainty of the phenomenon.

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Energy & Environment
1:13 pm
Fri July 24, 2015

Oil Prices Don't Jibe With Texas Budget Forecasts

Todd Wiseman/Texas Tribune

This week, oil prices dropped below $50 for the first time since February, a development that could upend the state's predictions of oil revenue for this year.

Estimates from the Comptroller of Public Accounts put oil prices at an average of just over $64 per barrel in 2015 and 2016. And, as of now, those predictions are rosier than the reality of the market, meaning the state's loss in oil and gas tax revenue could impact the Texas budget going forward.

In January, when Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar released his estimate of how much tax revenue the state would bring in for the Texas budget, he did so with a caveat.

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Austin
11:21 am
Thu July 23, 2015

Carp Helped Kill Lake Austin's Hydrilla, But What Are They Eating Now?

A lurking carp swims beneath ducks in Lake Austin. The city is asking anglers to catch at least 200 carp to determine their eating habits.
Mose Buchele/KUT

In the past, hydrilla carpeted whole swaths of Lake Austin. The invasive plant ruined recreation and damaged ecosystems on the lake. So to counteract that, the City of Austin occasionally introduced tens of thousands of sterilized grass carp to eat the hydrilla. But the city is now on the lookout for unintended consequences.

You’ve got to hand it to the grass carp: They did their job swimmingly. There’s no hydrilla problem in the lake right now, but there is concern the thousands of hungry fish have turned their attention to native plant species, and even other fish.

“Yeah, some of the anglers have talked about while they’re off fishing that they’re actually able to catch grass carp on crank baits. So, that’s what really got their hackles up,” says Dr. Brent Bellinger, an environmental scientist with the Watershed Protection Department. “Well, if they’re going after something that looks like shad on crank baits, they might be going after shad in general.”

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Energy & Environment
11:41 am
Tue July 21, 2015

Here’s Why The End of the Drought Is Not Completely Good News For Texas

The spring and early summer rains helped hoist Texas out of its drought. Though some reservoirs still need to be refilled, experts express optimism that a wetter winter will help.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

For the first time since 2010, none of Texas is in drought condition. But that doesn’t mean water worries don’t still plague some parts of the state.

The latest drought report from the Texas Water Development Board doesn't signal the end of the state's water woes, but it's still good news. After more than five years, spring rains saturated the ground enough to finally end our long drought — our long soil moisture drought.

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Austin
3:12 pm
Fri July 17, 2015

What Record-High Sea Temperatures Could Mean for the Gulf Coast

A map of last year's ocean surface temperatures from NOAA's State of the Climate report.

Global sea levels are rising, and that's going to have a major impact on the Texas coastline, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's annual report card.

According to the report, global sea temperatures and levels hit modern highs last year in what was the warmest year on record. In Texas, that’s bad news for the Gulf Coast.

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Texas
11:10 am
Wed July 15, 2015

As Jade Helm 15 Starts, Most Locals Say They Aren't Sweating the Military Exercise

Today marks the first day of Operation Jade Helm 15, a training exercise that will take place in Bastrop County.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

The military training exercise called “Operation Jade Helm 15” starts today just outside of Bastrop. While military exercises and war games happen all the time, this one gained a lot of attention after conspiracy theorists started suggesting it was part of a plan to takeover Texas and institute martial law.

Those voices grew so loud that Gov. Greg Abbott even decided to assign the Texas State Guard to monitor the operation.  But, despite a contentious town hall meeting, many in Bastrop say they’re not worried about the exercise.

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Energy & Environment
10:23 am
Fri July 3, 2015

U.S. Sees a Net Gain of Oil Rigs for the First Time in 2015

The Baker Hughes oil fields services firm says the U.S. saw a net gain of three rigs last week.
Eddie Seal/Texas Tribune

For the first time this year, the number of oil rigs operating in the U.S. went up, according to oil field services company Baker Hughes. But what does that mean for the largest oil producing state in the country?

For Texas, and the U.S., the increase is more of a bellwether, but after months of declines it could signal a stabilizing of the U.S. oil markets. According to Baker Hughes, there was a net gain of only three rigs – a loss of nine gas rigs was offset by the addition of 12 oil rigs.

Star Spencer is a senior editor for Platts Energy Information Service. She says it looks like the industry is betting that U.S. crude has settled around $60 a barrel.

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Energy & Environment
3:24 pm
Thu July 2, 2015

Texas Will Use Some of BP Settlement Money to Prepare for Future Disasters

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in 2010, and today, state governments and BP announced they'd reached a settlement agreement.
Marc Morrison

Texas will receive more than $750 million of the $20 billion BP oil spill settlement announced this week. The state will use some of that money to prepare for future disasters in the Gulf of Mexico.

Five years ago, oil was still pouring into the Gulf after an offshore rig exploded, killing 11 people and causing the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Florida State University oceanographer Ian McDonald, like a lot of researchers, felt frustrated at the time that civilian experts weren’t being included in the government’s emergency response.

“There’s a terrific brain trust of academics and professionals in the Gulf Coast region, and there are none of them that are not prepared at any time to go and try to fight this thing,” McDonald said.

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Energy & Environment
12:48 pm
Wed July 1, 2015

What's Next for Local Drilling Bans in Texas?

A new state law bans local bans on hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking. Some towns, like Denton, find their local bans have become unenforceable.
Mose Buchele/KUT News

This year state lawmakers severely restricted the ability of Texas towns to regulate local oil and gas drilling.

A law known as House Bill 40 was a reaction to a fracking ban passed by voters in the North Texas city of Denton.

Denton has come to represent local fracking bans and clashes between local governments and the oil and gas industry. But while Denton was the first city in Texas to ban fracking, it wasn't the first city to ban drilling within city limits.

That practice goes back years, according to a survey by the Texas Municipal League.

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Energy & Environment
10:21 am
Wed June 17, 2015

Denton Repeals City Ban on Fracking

The City of Denton repealed its municipal ban on fracking last night weeks after the Texas Legislature passed a law that made Denton's ban unenforceable.
Cooper Neill/Texas Tribune

The North Texas City of Denton made headlines last year when voters there banned the oil drilling technique known as fracking. Early this morning, the Denton City Council repealed that unenforceable ban in a move to head off costly future legal battles.

Many Denton City Council members said they had no choice but to repeal the ban. Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a bill into law earlier this year that takes the power to regulate most drilling activity away from local governments.

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Energy & Environment
11:23 am
Wed June 10, 2015

Why Advocates Who Helped Pass Denton's Fracking Ban Now Want to See It Repealed

After a hard-fought campaign to ban hydraulic fracturing wells in Denton, some advocates want the city to repeal its ban.
Mose Buchele/KUT

When voters in Denton banned the oil drilling technique called fracking there last year, the North Texas city took center stage in a national debate over oil and gas, property rights and the environment. But now some of the same people who pushed for the ban are calling to repeal it.

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Memorial Day Floods
7:53 am
Tue June 2, 2015

As San Marcos Flooded, Two Men Risked Their Lives to Save a Stranded Family

Chris Gutierrez (left) and Daniel Navarro found a woman and her three children stuck in their car in the San Marcos floodwaters.
Mose Buchele/KUT News

It’s been about a week since devastating floods swept through Texas, bringing destruction and even death.

The floods also set the scene for acts of heroism.

As the waters have receded, some of those stories have surfaced. One of them took place early Sunday morning on Memorial Day weekend on River Road in San Marcos.

Daniel Navarro and his stepfather Chris Gutierrez were searching for a family member and came across a woman and her three children stranded in their car in the floodwaters. Navarro and Gutierrez tell us what happened next.

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Memorial Day Floods
8:27 am
Thu May 28, 2015

Is Texas Doing Enough to Regulate Floodplain Development?

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

The deadly flooding that hit central Texas this week struck in one of the most rapidly growing parts of the county. And it’s reignited a debate over whether the state is doing enough to regulate development in floodplains.

Professor Nicolas Pinter teaches environmental science at Southern Illinois University.  He says a big study back in the late ‘90s put Texas at number two in the country in number of properties that have flooded repeatedly and the number of properties that have received repeated flood insurance payouts. And Texas is second to Florida in flood insurance, with just over 681,000 policies to Florida's 2.1 million, according to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The reason for that's simple: Texas gets a lot of floods.

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Memorial Day Floods
3:30 pm
Wed May 27, 2015

As San Marcos Residents Clean Up Flood Damage, Many Wonder What Comes Next

Erik Adams cleans out his family's San Marcos apartment Tuesday.
Mose Buchele/KUT News

Victims of the deadly floods that struck Central Texas over Memorial Day weekend are sorting through the physical wreckage of the storms. In San Marcos, they’re also trying to make sense of what happened and what comes next.

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Memorial Day Floods
12:01 pm
Tue May 26, 2015

After the Waters Recede, A Neighborhood Pulls Together

Colony Square resident Brandon Abbot begins to clean up after flood waters soaked his apartment.
Mose Buchele/KUT

Sitting in her neighbor’s car in the parking lot at the San Marcos Activity Center, Lynn Young looks desolate. She’s an older, fragile-seeming woman who recently suffered a stroke and walks with a cane.

At 3 a.m. Sunday morning, police came to her apartment in San Marcos and ordered her to evacuate.

Her 30 year-old son told her to go. He stayed behind with her helper dog. By early Sunday afternoon, she hadn’t heard from her son.

Her neighbor, David Barry, has offered to go back and look for her son. Barry has elaborate tattoos and piercings and looks like the kind of guy who might ride a Harley. And turns out he does.

“It seems like we might be able to get back now and check it out,” Barry says. “And then see what’s up from there.”

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Austin
11:16 am
Mon May 18, 2015

El Niño Brings May Showers, But Will It Bring Drought Relief?

Austin’s received 8.97 inches through May 17, compared to 7.09 inches of rainfall in the entire month of May last year.
Dean Terry/flickr

For the past year, forecasters have been watching the Pacific Ocean with bated breath, waiting for the weather pattern known as El Niño to arrive.

Well, it’s here, but it’s not like anything we’ve seen before.

When you hear or read reports about the oft-elusive weather system, you can’t help but think of Chris Farley’s classic skit from “Saturday Night Live.”

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Energy & Environment
3:38 pm
Thu May 14, 2015

Plan to Clean Up San Marcos River Could Mean You Pay More for Tubing

Safety and environmental concerns along the San Marcos River prompted the state senate to pass a bill that could create a fee system for river recreation.
Patrick Lewis/flickr

Each year, more than 80,000 people visit the San Marcos River to tube (or "toob") the waters and have a good time. But those crowds leave a lot of litter and create safety concerns for local law enforcement. Now a bill at the state senate aims to solve the problem.

Senate Bill 234 would let voters in Caldwell and Guadalupe counties set up a “recreation district” on the river downstream of San Marcos that would be funded by fees charged to river revelers. The district would have the authority to hire law enforcement to patrol the water and crack down on litter.

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Science
4:48 pm
Tue May 5, 2015

How GPS Technology Could Help Scientists Build a Holodeck

It's still a ways off, but UT researchers say that their improved GPS technology coupled with a virtual reality headset could create a holodeck-like experience.
intel.com

If you use your smartphone for directions, you know how annoying it can be when the tracking device gets your locations wrong. Now a team of researchers at the University of Texas’ Cockrell School of Engineering say they may have fixed that problem.

But there’s more: They also think they’ve brought a science fiction dream closer to reality.

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Energy & Environment
10:32 am
Wed April 29, 2015

Could Texas Be Doing More to Protect Against Manmade Earthquakes?

A dozen smaller earthquakes have struck Dallas in the last few weeks, following a SMU study that showed a connection between disposal well sites and earthquakes.

There have been earthquakes in almost every corner of Texas since the start of the state's most recent oil and gas boom. One swarm that really captured people’s attention started in the town of Azle in 2013.  When oil and gas regulators at the Railroad Commission of Texas visited the town, local people suggested ways to handle the waste water disposal wells thought to be causing the quakes. One idea came up over and over again.

“Why is it we can't shut the wells down around here for a period of time?” asked resident Gale Wood. "If nothing happens after a while, that would be one way to determine what’s going on."

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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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