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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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).

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.

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.

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.

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:

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

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. 

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.

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.

From StateImpact Texas: 

Every time a cow is sold in Texas, a dollar of that sale goes to industry groups that use it to promote and research beef. It’s part of a national program called the “beef checkoff,” and that charge will now rise to two dollars in Texas after a statewide vote by cattle owners.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

It’s time for another edition of KUT’s Summer School.

Every Friday this summer, we head out to learn new skills from folks in Austin who are experts in their field. We’ve already learned about glass blowing, wood turning and beekeeping. Today’s subject? Medieval Studies. 

Mose Buchele/StateImpact Texas

From StateImpact Texas

In the coming years, the federal government wants Texas to reduce its carbon emissions by about 40 percent. With a goal like that, you might expect to see more programs aimed at promoting renewable energy in Texas. But something like the opposite appears to be happening.

Donna Nelson, chair of Texas’ Public Utility Commission, asked last month if wind power generators, not Texas utility customers, should pay for upgrades to transmission lines. The Commission regulates the state’s electric grid, among other things.

Mose Buchele/KUT

It's a safe bet that the new boardwalk opening along Austin's Lady Bird Lake will attract throngs of people. It’s a sleek, modern, structure. At about 14 feet wide and around a mile long, it provides plenty of space for joggers, cyclists, and people who want to take in a view of the city.

But if those people walk east, intent on realizing the boardwalk's promise of closing the loop of trails around the lake, they will find themselves at the Pleasant Valley Bridge over the Longhorn Dam– a river crossing that is neither sleek nor modern.

For years city officials have considered it potentially unsafe, and worry it could become more so with added foot traffic from the boardwalk. So far efforts to improve the crossing have failed. 

Mose Buchele/KUT / KUT

The Lady Bird Lake Boardwalk is set to open to the public on June 7.

The 1.3 mile boardwalk will complete a ten-mile loop of trail around the lake. Howard Lazarus with Austin’s Public Works Department says the boardwalk will play a key role in expanding biking and pedestrian options throughout the region.

A Dallas jury recently awarded nearly $3 million to a family who said they were poisoned by a natural gas drilling operation near their North Texas ranch. The verdict, reached on April 22, is being called a landmark by opponents of the drilling technique, called hydraulic fracturing or "fracking."

A little brown bat found in a New York cave exhibits fungal growth on its muzzle, ears and wings.

Before Winifred Frick enters a bat cave in Wisconsin, she and her colleagues strip to their underwear and wipe themselves down with Lysol. When they leave, they bag everything up and wash it with Lysol as well.

“Spores can definitely get on peoples’ boots or pants or whatever, so it’s been really important that cavers, as well as researchers, do decontamination,” Frick, a bat researcher and adjunct professor at UC Santa Cruz, says.

Mose Buchele

Three free pairs of sunglasses, one Twinkie, one cupcake, lots of Cracker Jacks, a drink ticket, a sticker of a banana, and one invitation to a BBQ and concert, courtesy of the government of Canada.  

All that was to be had just by walking five blocks of Sixth Street during South by Southwest 2014.

It's a lot of stuff given out by companies and others trying to help their "brand," and much of it has no influence at all. 

Mose Buchele

From StateImpact Texas:   

In an often-quoted scene from the 2007 movie "There Will Be Blood," sociopathic oilman Daniel Plainview meets his rival for the last time. If oil fields are like milkshakes, he says, it pays to have a straw that reaches all the way across the room “and starts to drink your milkshake.”

“I. Drink. Your. Milkshake,” Plainview screams maniacally, “I DRINK IT UP!!!!”

This year, Texans will have the chance to vote for  a seat on the Railroad Commission of Texas. But the commission has a lot more to do with milkshakes than railroads. It regulates oil and gas in Texas.

Photo by Michael Hooper courtesy of USGS.

From the Asian Carp to the Zebra Mussel, Texas has its fair share of invasive species. Some of them get a lot of attention (I'm looking at you, voracious feral hog). Others tend to sneak under the radar even when they damage ecosystems.

Take Golden Algae. Originally from Europe, the microscopic plant was discovered on the Pecos River in 1985 when an algae bloom killed hundreds of thousands of fish. Since then, it has colonized other Texas river basins and killed millions more fish. Unlike deadly algae blooms in the Gulf of Mexico that kill fish by taking all the oxygen, golden algae is, itself, toxic. Under the right circumstances, it produces a poison that kills fish and bivalves in the affected waters.

Another minor earthquake shook the North Texas community of Azle on Monday. It’s one of dozens to hit the region over the last few months that have residents on edge and complaining of property damage.

Many see a link between the quakes and increased oil and gas activity. But challenges confront scientists researching the quakes for the U.S. Geological Survey and Southern Methodist University. For one, they’ve needed to more accurately pinpoint the epicenters of the Azle quakes.

View Earthquakes Near Azle, Texas in a larger map

Map created by Andrew Weber for KUT News and StateImpact Texas. Orange circles represent earthquakes, wavy blue lines represent active wastewater disposal wells.