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.

Ways To Connect

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.

Mose Buchele for KUT

In today’s meeting of the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state Agency that regulates the Texas oil and gas industry, Commissioner David Porter announced the search for a staff seismologist in response to the rash of small earthquakes that have sprung up throughout the state along with the boom in oil and gas production.

Mose Buchele for KUT

“I’ve got a crack in my hallway,” chuckled Marion LeBert as he stood in the parking lot of Azle High School.

“Oh my!” commiserated Tracy Napier. “We have sink holes in our yard. And they’ve gotten bigger since these earthquakes.”

The two were among hundreds of townspeople hoping to get answers at a meeting hosted last  night by the  Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oil and gas industry regulators. The area, in Parker and Tarrant counties, didn’t experience earthquakes until recently. Now, it’s seen a swarm of over twenty minor ones in the last two months, troubling residents and causing damage to some homes. The earthquakes would be the topic of discussion.

Photo by Mose Buchele

By New Year's Day, the network of transmission lines that comprise Texas' "Competitive Renewable Energy Zone" [CREZ] will be fully operational, bringing electricity from wind turbines in West Texas and the Panhandle to points east. Many of the lines are already active (and have contributed to record-breaking percentages of Texas electricity coming from wind), but the Jan. 1 deadline is cause for celebration among those who have long prided Texas' role as a leader in wind power.

From StateImpact Texas:

The promise of harnessing the power of the sun and turning it into renewable energy has attracted countless businesses, governments and environmental groups. But it might be a church here in Austin that ends up bringing one of the next breakthroughs in solar technology.

To understand the scope of this project, it helps to know that Saint David’s is no little roadside chapel. The Episcopal Church in downtown Austin fills up a whole city block. It provides your typical church services and then some.

“We have a coffee shop, we have a restaurant, we have a pre-school for children,” says Terry Nathan, the parish administrator. “The better part of our basement is dedicated to a homeless center." The Church keeps a staff of caterers for its side business hosting events, and has a bookstore and parking garage, which they make available for commercial use. All that takes a lot of electricity.

So about ten years ago, church members got the idea to put solar panels on the parking garage. But they didn’t take the plunge until last year. That’s when low interest rates, improved technology, and government rebates all came together.

flickr.com/ginapina

From StateImpact Texas:

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Waterloo Park, just east of the State Capitol, is a perfect example. There used to be houses there. But then in the 1970s, recalls former city council staffer and Waller Creek Conservancy executive director Stephanie Lee McDonald, “there was a lot of urban renewal efforts and the neighborhood was razed and the park was created.”

According to newspaper articles at the time, there were big redevelopment plans for the area, which sits along Waller Creek. There were even hopes that the space could become Austin’s very own version of the famed San Antonio River Walk. Of course, things didn’t really work out that way.

Austin Energy

From StateImpact Texas:

A lot of people who walk or drive past Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin probably assume it’s a natural feature. They appreciate the trails and parks that line the lake's 416 acres, unaware of the series of floodgates on the Longhorn Dam that hold its waters in. But recent flooding along the waterway has called attention to longstanding mechanical problems at the dam, problems that the City of Austin is aware of, but hasn't found the money to address.

While its been called the "jewel in the crown" of Austin, Lady Bird Lake was created to serve a utilitarian purpose: to provide water for a now-decommissioned gas power plant in the Holly neighborhood of East Austin. Because of its connection to the power plant, the dam is operated under the supervision of Austin Energy, the city's publicly-owned electric utility. Built in 1960, the floodgates on Longhorn Dam have stored and released water from the lake for over 50 years. Now that age is showing.

ABC News

He led the United States on 9/11, oversaw the bloody invasion and occupation of Iraq, reconfigured the global geopolitical landscape, and became one of the most polarizing presidents in recent history.

But these days, it seems like George W. Bush is mostly known for his painting.

Since his retirement, the former president has made headlines for his new hobby painting portraits and pictures of animals. Now, a small piece of his creative output can be yours.

Mose Buchele, KUT News

A dead horse, dog, goat, and deer were among the putrefying animals that clean-up volunteers found today along a small strip of Onion Creek in the Bluffs Springs neighborhood of Travis County. 

"Somebody should be helping, at least coming and getting these animals out of here. I mean, they're decaying where [people] live," said Lina Meaux, a volunteer helping in the cleanup efforts.

Reshma Kirpalani for KUT News

When voters go to the polls this year, many of them will have only as much information about the constitutional amendments they’re voting on as is provided on the ballot.

That is to say, not much at all, especially when it comes to the major item on the list, Proposition 6.

Mose Buchele, KUT News

This is part four of a series looking at the infrastructure of dams in Texas, and what can be done to improve it. You can find part one here, and part two here, and part three here.

In a peaceful, wooded corner of Bastrop County, Texas sits one of the unluckiest dams in the state. In 2011 the Labor Day Wildfires burned soil and vegetation around Clear Springs Lake and its earthen dam. Then, half a year later, a massive rainstorm hit. Water poured over the structure and wrecked havoc on an already crumbling spillway.

“Our poor little dam has gone between being scorched to being flooded in a matter of six months,” Bruce Bar, a floodplain engineer and the manager of the community’s dam told StateImpact Texas. “So it’s handled about as much as nature can throw at it.”

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