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.

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

Read this story in English.

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 lift 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

Read this story in English.

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

Read this story in English.

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.

An oil rig outside Midland, Texas.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

For months, the state agency that regulates oil and gas in Texas has considered reducing the amount of crude companies can pump from the ground. Supporters of the plan hoped it would reduce a supply glut and stabilize oil prices. But the proposal died Tuesday without a final vote.

In Texas, a proposal to cut the amount of crude that oil companies are allowed to pump from the ground appears dead. The regulator who proposed it — Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton — says commissioners "still are not ready to act" on the plan, which would have cut production 20% to try and stabilize prices amid a historic oil glut. Regulators had been expected to vote on the plan Tuesday.

A blue jay is perched on a birdbath in the Cherrywood neighborhood of Austin on Wednesday.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Click here to read this story in English

Una de las primeras cosas que la gente notó fueron los pájaros.

Luego de las órdenes de quedarse en casa y de que los sonidos del tránsito y los negocios se atenuaran, el canto de os pájaros parecía más fuerte. Parecía que había más aves.

A blue jay is perched on a birdbath in the Cherrywood neighborhood of Austin on Wednesday.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

One of the first things people noticed were the birds.

Once the stay-at-home orders were in place and the sounds of traffic and business dimmed, the birds seemed louder. There seemed to be more of them.

Pipes for Kinder Morgan's Permian Highway Pipeline are stacked in the Hill Country as the company begins work on the natural gas pipeline.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Hays County Commissioners Court has revoked permits it issued to let Kinder Morgan’s Permian Highway Pipeline project bore under county roads.

An oil rig and gas flares in far West Texas
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

A meeting of Texas oil and gas officials started Tuesday with a prayer both ominous and inscrutable.  

“Father, we come to you this morning recognizing an attack upon us as a country, as an industry,” Railroad Commission Chair Wayne Christian intoned.

The Austin skyline
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Austin’s air was more polluted with toxic particles than ever before in the period from 2016 through 2018, according to the American Lung Association. The group warns air quality could continue to worsen as the federal government erodes public health protections.

An oil pump jack in Odessa.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

For the first time in history, a barrel of West Texas oil was so worthless Monday that oil companies would pay you to take it. Oil prices have been low for months, but the negative pricing of a valuable commodity can be hard to wrap your head around. How does it happen?

A message in chalk reminds people to wash their hands and be safe.
Gabriel C. Perez / KUT

The number of deaths related to COVID-19 have likely not peaked nationwide, UT Austin researchers reported Friday. Their findings are in contrast to those of a popular COVID-19 predictive model from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which suggested U.S. deaths peaked Monday.

An oil rig outside Midland, Texas.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

In a move that would have been unimaginable just a couple months ago, Texas is considering limiting oil production in the state. Capping the amount of crude that can be pumped is a power the state has not used in nearly 50 years. But, at a meeting Tuesday, regulators heard it may be needed to stabilize an industry in freefall.

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