Mose Buchele, KUT News | KERA News

Mose Buchele, KUT News

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.

Four large wildfires have broken out in Central Texas in just about a week. It’s part of a bad year for Texas fires, and climate researchers say the uptick in fires bears the fingerprints of climate change.

Take a rapidly growing state, add a scorching heat wave, and you have a recipe for historically high electricity use. So it was that Texas broke the record for power demand three times in the last week. Through it all, the state’s electric grid operated without major disruption.

That success nevertheless revealed some interesting things about the ways we generate and consume electricity.

You’ve probably noticed it’s been a hazy summer in Austin. And you may have heard that's because of massive clouds of dust blown across the ocean from Africa. That fact alone inspires awe.

But it turns out there is much more to these dust clouds than the distance they travel.

The stars at night could get bigger and brighter in Fredericksburg, as it works to achieve "dark-sky" designation from the International Dark-Sky Association. The effort by the Hill Country city aims to reduce the light pollution to both boost the quality of its stargazing and increase tourism.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said this week that the Department of Energy is working on a plan to subsidize coal and nuclear power in the name of national security. While the details are scarce, the idea’s been the subject of speculation and criticism from energy experts, environmentalists and grid operators.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry spoke in Austin today about a new Department of Energy plan to bail out failing coal and nuclear power plants in the name of national security.

If you like going to the park to feed the ducks, you can thank the Migratory Bird Act of 1918.

“Ducks were nearly eliminated at one point," says Steve Holmer, vice president of policy for the American Bird Conservancy. "But through the law and through the effort of conservation, there has been a complete turnaround."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is hosting three roundtable discussions this week in response to the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. The first roundtable, held Tuesday, focused on "school and community safety."

The meeting was private, but afterward Abbott read reporters “a list of suggestions and ideas that came out of" the discussions.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott today convened the first of three roundtable discussions on "school and community safety" in response to Friday's school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas.

The U.S. is on track to become the world's biggest oil producer, pumping out more crude than at its peak nearly a half century ago. For decades, few expected such a comeback, and it's all the more remarkable because the price of a barrel of oil is nowhere near what it was during the last, recent boom.

"This is an incredible statement, but we're probably making more money at fifty dollars a barrel than a hundred," says Kirk Edwards, president of Latigo Petroleum in Midland, the de facto oil capitol of West Texas.

A lot of what you read in the news boils down to numbers. What's the unemployment rate? How's the stock market? What’s the price of a gallon of gas? When those numbers are wrong, the whole story can be wrong. That’s exactly what appears to be happening with some important numbers from the Energy Information Administration.

Texas just got out of its longest cold spell in six years. Starting Sunday, parts of the state dipped below freezing and stayed there for around three days. Ice caused accidents. Snow brought delight. But one notable outcome was something that did not happen: The lights didn't go out.

Trey Murphy is a grad student in North Carolina, but he has dreams of owning land in West Texas. A few months ago, he was looking at real estate online and came across something strange.

“I saw that there was this particular listing that was selling the surface estate, but not willing to sell the wind estate,” he says.

Over the last 10 years, Texas has experienced a massive upsurge in earthquakes linked to oil and gas activity. Now, research is showing how that activity can wake up fault lines that were “dead” for hundreds of millions of years.

Scott Canada says his company had big plans this year for a 100-megawatt solar farm outside Fort Stockton, Texas.

“It would have been built over the next 18 months,” says Canada, senior vice president of renewable energy for McCarthy Building Companies. “It generally would have probably employed 300 to 400 people at its peak, depending on how tight the schedule was being compressed.”

Kathleen Hartnett White is facing scrutiny from U.S. senators today as part of her nomination to lead President Trump’s Council on Environmental Quality. Hartnett White was Texas' top regulator for six years. Her nomination to the White House post has proved controversial, even in an administration that is no stranger to controversy.

One of the many things Donald Trump promised during his campaign was that he would boost the country’s coal industry. Soon after he won the presidency, though, it became clear to some experts that the future of coal in the U.S. was dim; that natural gas, wind and solar were pushing it out of the market.

The coal industry found an ally in Trump’s pick to helm the Department of Energy: former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Kathleen Hartnett White was a top environmental regulator in Texas from 2001 to 2007.

A major earthquake-monitoring network is up and running across Texas.

Thanks to an interactive website hosted by TexNet, you can now see where quakes are happening and learn about them in real time. The tool could be useful for the growing number of people who’ve felt earthquakes here.

The weather was good for the funeral. The sunset painted the Port Aransas sky in pinks, yellows and blues. The breeze off the Gulf cut the humidity. The crowd of 60 or so on the beach was dressed eclectically. Some wore t-shirts and swimsuits, others traditional black. They were all there to mourn Tony Amos. They would do it in a way that, probably, no man had been mourned before.

While we’re still a long way from understanding the full environmental impact of Hurricane Harvey, the damage has been done, and experts say Harvey has highlighted inconsistencies in Texas’ ability to contain hazardous materials in the face of future storms.

The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University has announced a new archival project to gather materials from Texas musical history.

David Coleman, director of the Wittliff, says the plan is to build on an assortment of artifacts already on hand, like a songbook written by an 11-year old Willie Nelson.

“It’s got some great lyrics in it, just from an 11-year-old boy,” he says, including a song about the "hangover blues."

“I think he knew pretty darn early what his path was."

On Sunday morning Jessica Hulsey woke up in her home in Houston’s East End. She went to her front door to see how high the water had risen – but it wasn’t the water that surprised her.  

Tropical Storm Harvey has brought the mighty Texas oil refining industry to its knees, at least temporarily, and Texas drivers are just starting to feel the pain.

It’s estimated that 1 million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute. A few years ago, National Parks decided to try and make a small dent in that number by banning water bottle sales on parkland. Now, the Trump administration has reversed that policy.

The science on whether there's a link between oil and gas activity and a surge in earthquakes in Texas isn't clear-cut, says the new seismologist for the agency that regulates the industry here.

When transcripts of President Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders about refugee policy leaked to the press last week, one line got a lot of attention. It was a reference to “local milk people,” presumably dairy farmers, whom the president thought refugees wouldn’t work for.

As it turns out, though, some “milk people” worry it's Trump's immigration policies that may be bad for business.

Texas-based oil giant Exxon Mobil has faced high-profile lawsuits from states and environmental groups over allegations that it covered up what it knew about global warming for decades. But one lawsuit has flown under the radar.

People love to wax nostalgic about the Austin of decades past. The rents were cheaper, the traffic was lighter, the music was live-r. Some of that talk may be history viewed through rose-colored glasses, but there is at least one metric by which Austin was, literally, cooler: the temperature.

There’s almost enough pipeline transporting crude oil and other chemicals buried under Texas to reach the moon and back. Last week, one small section of that infrastructure in Bastrop County was damaged by a maintenance crew. The result was a spill of more than 50,000 gallons of crude oil.

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