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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.”

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.

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.

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.