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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Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT news.

The Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative announced today that is has fully restored power to the areas impacted by the Labor Day wildfires that scorched more than 34,000 acres of Bastrop County. But just because the power is running in the areas, the statement made it clear that there's still work remaining.

Photo courtesy of ||read||'s,

In 2008 a United Soccer League franchise opened up shop in Austin. Central Texas soccer fans rejoiced.

Photo by Lizzie Chen for KUT News.

The current budget standoff in D.C. has some serious implications for disaster relief efforts here  in Central Texas. As lawmakers scramble to find a short term fix, one thing is becoming clear:  If FEMA doesn't receive new funding, aid work will cease.

Map courtesy of the U.S. Drought Monitor.

They're not the kind of records we're looking to break, but we seem to keep breaking them.

Today, the U.S. Drought Monitor released its weekly drought map. It shows nearly 82 percent of the state is in "exceptional drought," the most severe form.

That's the highest percentage of the state in exceptional drought since the Drought Monitor began releasing the maps in 1999. Even though the map has only been around 12 years, the drought is among the most extreme Texas has ever seen, says Brian Fuchs, Climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News.

A federal judge  in Austin today blocked key provisions of a controversial abortion law passed by the Texas Legislature earlier this year.

The law passed during in early May required a doctor to perform a sonogram, and to read a description of it to women seeking an abortion.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks sided with plaintiffs who sought an injunction from the rule going into effect. Attorney Julie Rikelman, with the Center for Reproductive Rights, calls the ruling a victory.

Courtesy of the City of Austin.

This afternoon, Austin City Council members received a report commissioned to investigate the cost of halting construction on the Water Treatment Plant 4 project.

The report estimates the cost of delaying the project for five years to be $138 million. The cost rises to $206 million for a ten year delay.

At least one voice has already expressed doubts that the report will make an impact on council's debate over the usefulness of the project.

Photo by Mose Buchele for KUT News

Ranchers are suffering through the worst one-year drought in Texas history. Many have given up trying to feed their cattle and are bringing them to auction at double, or even triple the normal rate.  For those holding on to their livestock, finding affordable feed is a growing challenge.

Photo by Daniel Reese for KUT News

Work crews and curiosity seekers converged on the UT campus today as ESPN set the stage for the official launch of the Longhorn Network.

Tonight at 6:00 PM, the network, billed as the first devoted to a single university, will go live with a "College GameDay" broadcast from the six pack on UT's South Mall.  But, if you're thinking about beating the heat and watching from home, you might want to think again.

It's looking like the Network could launch without a local distributor, a fact that UT President Bill Powers played down in an email yesterday:

Photo courtesy

The Texas Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that the state can continue to charge the so-called "pole tax," a $5 per patron tax at strip clubs. 

A lower court had ruled that the tax violated the constitutional right to free speech. But in an opinion issued August 25, the Supreme Court said the tax did not present a burden on speech.

Delivering the opinion Justice Nathan L. Hecht wrote:

Texans are being asked to conserve electricity as the The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) saw its operating reserves dropped below 2,300 megawatts due to the extreme heat.

“We are asking Texas residents and businesses to reduce their electricity use until 7 p.m. today,” ERCOT vice president Kent Saathoff said in a press release.  “We don’t expect to need additional steps in the emergency procedures today unless we lose a significant amount of generation over the peak period.”

Later, in a conference call with reporters, Saathoff suggested that students returning to school this week might have contributed to an increase in power consumption as districts turned on lights and turned down A/C systems.

Tensions were high at Travis County Commissioners Court on Tuesday as the court voted on a new precinct map that left some commissioners accusing others of gerrymandering and behind the scenes negotiations.

Photo by KUT News.

The first ten movies confirmed for the 2011 Austin film festival were made public Tuesday.

The offerings run the gamut from thrillers, to comedies, to documentaries. They include big names like Glenn Close (in the cross-dressing period piece "Albert Nobbs") and Antonio Banderas (in the animated feature "Puss in Boots")  as well as local-boys-made-good the Duplass brothers,  the writer/directors of "Jeff Who Lives at Home."

Photo by Liang Shi/KUT News

Austin City Council got some surprises at a budget meeting today, both pleasant ones for the city’s fiscal outlook.

City budget officers told the Council it underestimated how high the city’s property tax rate could be under the rollback rate. That means the city will be able to raise taxes higher then once believed without having to get voter approval.

If City Council chooses to raise property taxes to the new rollback rate, it would generate an additional $1.6 million in revenue.


Austin Energy has posted a message on twitter that: "Power fully restored at 7:50 pm to all customers affected by Airport Blvd/Springdale/E. 12th St area outage."


With the temperature at over 104 degrees residents of East Austin lost power Tuesday evening. Reports began coming in a little before 6:00 PM of a power outage centered in the Rosewood neighborhood between East Martin Luther King Boulevard and East Seventh Street

Photo from Austin Energy. Map enhanced by Torrie Hardcastle for KUT News

Update: Austin Energy has released an updated version of this map. You can find it and an explanation here.

Earlier: Texas is currently in Energy Emergency Alert Level 2 as the electricity grid struggles to power air conditioning amid sweltering temperatures. Level 3 would require energy companies like Austin Energy to begin rolling blackouts like those we experienced if February.

After the energy crisis this winter, Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis gave a presentation on the power emergency. The presentation included a map delineating areas of the city connected to so-called "load shed" circuits. These are the circuits that are the first to get turned off in the event of rolling blackouts.

The closure of the Central Unit in Sugarland leaves its mark as the first Texas prison to be shuttered in the history of the state. But it also leaves its mark on musical history. In his story in the Austin American Stateman, Mike Ward reveals how the 102 year old facility is said to be the inspiration for the Leadbelly classic "midnight special."


The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is asking Texans to conserve electricity from 3 to 7 PM today, as hot weather and higher-than-average energy use strain the state's electric grid.

"[Electric] capacity is expected to be very tight over the peak today, and ERCOT operators are closely monitoring the situation," ERCOT said in a media release.

Forecast for peak demand today is more than 68,684 megawatts. Texas hit an all-time record  yesterday when electric use exceeded 67,929 megawatts. 

Photo by Jessie Wang for KUT News.

Remember when the city asked Austinites if they wanted to pay for downtown parking on nights and weekends? Most people asked said "no," then the city went ahead and extended downtown metered parking hours anyway?

It turns out, that vote was not the end to the downtown parking debate.

This Thursday's  City Council meeting could bring final votes on some long-debated changes to Austin policy, even as it re-ignites debate on other issues that seemed settled just a few months ago (I'm looking at you, downtown metered parking).

Photo by Full Throttle Productions

The lawsuit against Texas State Comptroller Susan Combs over a deal to subsidize an F1 racetrack was officially dropped today.  That was not a surprise to plaintiffs, who said a decision by District Court Judge Rhonda Hurley the week before left them with no way to move forward.