Mose Buchele | KUT

Senior Reporter, Energy & Environment

Mose is KUT's energy and environment reporter, previously under the StateImpact Texas project. He has been on staff at KUT since 2009, covering local and state issues.  He's 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

The Austin skyline on a hazy day in October.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

As COVID-19 spread across the globe in the spring, people noticed a strange side-effect of the pandemic: The air was getting cleaner. Stay-at-home orders, along with the economic crash caused by the outbreak, meant less industrial and transportation-related pollution.  

But not necessarily in Austin.

A snout butterfly in Austin in October.
Gabriel C. Pérez

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En las últimas dos semanas habrás notado un gran número de pequeñas mariposas a la deriva por el centro de Texas. La vista desde un parque o jardín puede ser mágica, ya que cientos de ellas serpentean por el aire con sus manchas de color marrón, negro y amarillo. La vista desde una autopista no lo es tanto, ya que estos insectos se desplazan entre los vehículos antes de estrellarse contra un parabrisas en dirección contraria. 

A snout butterfly in Austin in October.
Gabriel C. Pérez

Lee esta historia en español. 

The last couple weeks you might have noticed a large number of small butterflies drifting through Central Texas. The view from a park or garden can be magical, as hundreds meander through the air flashing specks of brown, black and yellow. The view from a highway is less so, as the bugs reel between vehicles before getting squished by an oncoming windshield. 

Boats with flags showing support for President Trump are docked in the marina at Emerald Point on Lake Travis on Saturday.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Five boats sank during a parade on Lake Travis in support of President Trump on Saturday, according to the Travis County Sheriff's Office. Austin-Travis County EMS tweeted that "no injuries or medical emergencies" occurred as a result.

Water flows through open floodgates at the Mansfield Dam into Lake Travis in 2018. Intake pipes take water from the lake to treatment plants.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

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Austin obtiene actualmente toda el agua que consume de la zona de Highland Lakes, pero eso no siempre va a poder ser así. La ciudad recientemente dio un primer paso para almacenar cantidades masivas de agua bajo tierra. Si el plan funciona, podría ayudar a Austin a sobrevivir ya que el cambio climático amenaza los suministros de agua tradicionales.

Water flows through open floodgates at the Mansfield Dam into Lake Travis in 2018. Intake pipes take water from the lake to treatment plants.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

Austin gets all of its water from the Highland Lakes, but that might not always be the case. The city recently took a first step towards storing massive amounts of water underground. If the plan works, it could help Austin survive as climate change threatens traditional water supplies.

A car with a sensor attached to it on a street in Southeast Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

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Un grupo de voluntarios se ha desplegado por Austin y otras 12 ciudades de Estados Unidos este verano para tomar -literalmente- la temperatura de sus barrios. La recopilación de datos es parte de un proyecto para ayudar a proteger a la gente mientras el mundo se sofoca. Y, en muchos lugares, pone en evidencia cómo las comunidades ya vulnerables son las que más sufren por el cambio climático y el calor urbano.

A car with a sensor attached to it on a street in Southeast Austin.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

Volunteers have fanned out in Austin and 12 other U.S. cities this summer to take the temperature of their neighborhoods – literally. The data collection is part of a project to help protect people as the world warms. And, in many places, it is highlighting how already-vulnerable communities suffer the most from climate change and urban heat.

Woman walking in heat with umbrella to shield the sun
Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

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Los residentes de Austin tienen más de quince días seguidos sudando gracias a una temperatura que se mantiene en los tres dígitos. Se supone que los veranos de Texas son calurosos. Pero no hay nada normal en las olas de calor como esta.

Los registros de temperatura de Austin se remontan a 1898. En los primeros cien años de registros, las olas de calor de tres dígitos duraron 10 días o más  sólo en ocho ocasiones. 

Woman walking in heat with umbrella to shield the sun
Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

By the end of this weekend, Austinites can expect to have sweated through more than two weeks in a row of triple-digit heat. Texas summers are supposed to be hot. But there’s nothing normal about heat waves like this one.

A sign says alcohol consumption on public streets and sidewalks is forbidden.
Austin Price for KUT

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No importa de qué lado de la calle estés, pronto estarás del lado correcto de la ley cuando camines por East Austin con una cerveza. El Concejo de Austin aprobó este miércoles una resolución para levantar la prohibición de beber en público que existe en algunas partes.

A sign says alcohol consumption on public streets and sidewalks is forbidden.
Austin Price for KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

No matter what side of the street you’re on, you will soon be on the right side of the law when you walk around East Austin with a beer. Austin City Council on Wednesday approved a resolution to begin the process of lifting a prohibition on public drinking that exists in some parts.

Gas is burned off from an oil well in West Texas.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The amount of methane that fossil fuel companies burn off in Texas as a waste product could power every home in the state, according to some estimates. The industry practice known as “flaring” has been decried as wasteful and polluting by public health groups, environmentalists and even some in the industry.

Up to three inches of rain will be possible in the Austin area over the weekend, just enough to reverse a drought.
National Weather Service

This week, when Travis County Commissioners voted to enact a “burn ban” in response to dry conditions, Fire Marshal Tony Callaway said there could be an added bonus to approving the measure.

“Normally, if we put a burn ban in place, we do receive the rain,” he chuckled, “so that’s one positive way of looking at this.”

Charlton Schrieber cools off on a July afternoon.
Mose Buchele / KUT

Ask people camped on Cesar Chavez Street by the Terrazas Branch Library how it’s going, and you won’t be surprised by the answer.

“It’s hot, very hot,” says a man named George, who didn’t want to give his last name.

Uriel Guillen speaks during a march and rally In East Austin on Sunday for his cousin, Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen, who is believed to have been killed by a fellow Fort Hood soldier.
Michael Minasi / KUT

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Cientos de personas marcharon en East Austin el domingo para honrar a Vanessa Guillén, la soldado de 20 años de Fort Hood que se cree que fue asesinada por otro soldado en abril. Su muerte y el hecho de que, según se informa, sufrió acoso durante su servicio, ha provocado una protesta por el trato que reciben las mujeres en el ejército.

Uriel Guillen speaks during a march and rally In East Austin on Sunday for his cousin, Army Spc. Vanessa Guillen, who is believed to have been killed by a fellow Fort Hood soldier.
Michael Minasi / KUT

Lee esta historia en español. 

Hundreds of people marched in East Austin on Sunday to honor Vanessa Guillén, the 20-year-old Fort Hood soldier who is believed to have been killed by another soldier in April. Her death, and the fact that she reportedly suffered harassment during her service, has sparked protest over the treatment of women in the military.

Toxic blue-green algae was blamed for the death of at least five dogs last year.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The heat of summer is here and that means toxic blue green algae may return to Austin lakes and creeks. Last year, at least five dogs died after swimming in parts of Lady Bird Lake containing the algae. So, this year, the city is developing an early-warning system to let people know when conditions are ripe for a deadly bloom.

West Texas landscape
Julia Reihs / KUT

Texas is no stranger to droughts. From the bone-dry stretch of the 1950s, the state’s longest drought, to the fiery months of 2011, the state’s single driest year, droughts have shaped Texas' culture and economy.

But, according to the state climatologist of Texas, we ain’t seen nothing yet.

Courtesy of the candidates

The Railroad Commission of Texas might be one of the most powerful government agencies you’ve never heard of. That’s because, despite the name, the commission regulates the Texas oil and gas industry.

The sunset over Canyon Lake in the Texas Hill Country.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Dust that has traveled across the ocean from the Sahara desert arrived in Austin this week. It’s an annual phenomenon that makes for hazy skies and beautiful sunsets. But this year it could also increase the spread and the deadliness of COVID-19.

Kinder Morgan is constructing a natural gas line, known as the Permian Highway Pipeline, through the Texas Hill Country.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The pipeline company Kinder Morgan violated the Safe Drinking Water Act when it spilled tens of thousands of gallons of drilling fluid into Blanco County groundwater, according to a new lawsuit from local landowners and groundwater conservation groups.

People ride bikes near Auditorium Shores.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

This year, as the hottest days of summer clutch Texas in a fiery embrace, a team of volunteers will fan out through Austin neighborhoods to take the temperature of the city.

The endeavor is part of an urban heat mapping project, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that aims to present a clearer picture of what parts of town get the hottest and who is most affected.

A protester holds a sign that says, "Defund the Police."
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

"Defund the police” has become a nationwide rallying cry for people protesting police violence against black people. Locally, the Austin Justice Coalition has asked the City Council to remove $100 million from police department's budget.

Police line up in downtown Austin on Sunday during protests over police violence against black people.
Michael Minasi / KUT

In addition to talking about police accountability and the dangers protesters face in the streets, the Austin Justice Coalition discussed Tuesday the idea of cutting police department budgets.

Demonstrators protesting police brutality marched onto I-35 from Austin Police headquarters on Saturday.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Hundreds of people protesting the police killings of George Floyd and Mike Ramos demonstrated outside Austin Police headquarters and on I-35 on Saturday, temporarily blocking all lanes of traffic.

NWS

A flash flood warning is in effect for much of Central Texas until 12:15 AM Monday. Storms moving through the area could bring flooding, lightning and hail up to one inch in diameter in some areas.

Cots in the Smithville Recreational Center during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Martin do Nascimento / KUT

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El coronavirus llegó al centro de Texas con la primavera. Esto significó cancelar el festival South by Southwest y un final anticipado para el año escolar. También significó que la gente que tuvo que quedarse en casa, al menos, disfrutó de un clima bastante bueno.

Pero esto podría estar a punto de cambiar.

Cots in the Smithville Recreational Center during Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
Martin do Nascimento / KUT

The coronavirus arrived in Central Texas with the spring. That meant no South by Southwest and an early end to the school year. It also meant people stuck at home, at least, enjoyed some pretty good weather.

That’s likely about to change.

The control room at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. ERCOT manages the flow of electric power to more than 26 million Texans.
Julia Reihs / KUT

The group that operates the Texas electric grid expects the state to break records for peak electricity use this summer, despite the fact that people are using less electricity because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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