Mose Buchele, KUT News | KUOW News and Information

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.

Right now, an army of FEMA home inspectors is working its way through parts of Texas decimated by Hurricane Harvey. The inspectors are recording information that will help the government decide who gets disaster aid and how much. But the way that money is distributed has come under fire.

Now, as in previous disasters, some storm victims are demanding more transparency.

When it comes to Hurricane Harvey, Austin got off easy compared to other cities. The storm proved challenging for the city’s electric grid, however: About 79,000 customers lost power, and the city's electric utility is still tallying the cost.

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."

Like thousands of Hurricane Harvey victims, Patricia Belcher spent her time last week in limbo. She and her family were stuck in a shelter in Austin after the managers of her Victoria apartment complex called with bad news.

Standing on the bank of Onion Creek at McKinney Falls State Park, De Ding watches his wife and two kids splash in the water.

“I’ve seen enough water,” he chuckles. But, it's better than the water he was dealing with Houston, he says.

For some people, Hurricane Harvey destroyed a life’s worth of memories. For others, it was their dreams that the storm interrupted. That was the case for one young couple who had just gotten engaged and bought a house on the Gulf Coast when the hurricane hit.

Some evacuees from Hurricane Harvey are coming up on a week living away from home. That’s a long time to spend on a cot in an unfamiliar city, especially if you’re a kid. So what is there to do?

At the Delco Center shelter in East Austin, one 10-year-old volunteered to help others.

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.

Sitting in front of the temporary shelter in Smithville on Sunday, evacuees watched rain patter across the parking lot and speculated about which roads had been closed and reopened. Some of them had been through floods before.

‘This ain’t my first flood, but this is my worse flood. I’ll tell you what,” chuckled Floyd Henderson, one of 76 evacuees saying at the Smithville Recreation Center on Sunday. 

If you find yourself walking on Red River near 12th Street downtown, stop for second. Glance toward the state Capitol and enjoy a view that cost the city millions. This is the site of the biggest snag in Austin’s ambitious plan to harness the flood waters of Waller Creek. But now, after nearly 20 year of work, the project may be close to complete.

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 invasive zebra mussel has been moving south for years, leaving destruction its wake. Now, it’s in Lake Travis (update: and Lake Austin), and it will soon make its way downstream, changing the look, feel and maybe even the taste of Austin’s lakes forever.

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.

A few years ago, self-driving cars seemed like something out of The Jetsons. Now, they’re here (at least in prototype). Their proliferation promises easier commutes and fewer accidents. But, that’s just the start.

Autonomous cars could forever change how cities like Austin look – and how they operate – in some major ways.

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.

It’s been a pretty busy summer so far when it comes to fighting wildfires in Central Texas.

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.

The deaths of 10 migrants in a sweltering 18-wheeler in San Antonio has raised a lot of questions. One of them: Why transport people in the back of a tractor-trailer, especially after they have already crossed the border?

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.

In Austin and about 60 other Texas cities, you need a permit before you can cut down some large or historic trees. Opponents of those tree-preservation rules –including Gov. Greg Abbott – call them a violation of property rights. Now, Attorney General Ken Paxton has weighed in – and those opponents may not be happy with his opinion.

Scrolling through Twitter is not for everyone, but if it's the kind of thing you’re into you’re likely to come across many tweets that make no sense. A few weeks ago one of them said this: “Curve Crunch: WTI flips to contango. Backwardation banished!”

What could this mean?

Solar power is one of the fastest growing energy sources in the world. Whether from massive utility-scale solar farms or residential rooftop panels, you can expect to see more solar in the future.

But scientists have identified something that can really hurt the performance of those panels: air pollution.

The legacy of Austin’s polluting past still lives in its soil. Parcels of land, especially on the city’s East Side, carry contamination from businesses and industries that long ago closed up shop. For the last several years, the city has had federal help cleaning up some of the land for new uses.

But now that funding is under threat. The program that provides the grants would be slashed by 30 percent under the Trump administration's proposed budget.

As greenhouse gasses heat the atmosphere, we can expect more severe floods and droughts. That could be trouble for critical infrastructure like bridges and roads in many cities, including here in Central Texas.

After an explosion at a fertilizer plant killed 15 people in West, Texas, in 2013, the EPA created new safety protections for the storage of dangerous chemicals. Now, at the urging of the industry, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is delaying those rules until 2019.

Signs went up recently near KUT's studios on the UT campus, warning people about aggressive birds. After two members of the newsroom got dive-bombed by grackles, we started wondering what it was all about.

Fish can breathe under water. They’re great swimmers. But they’re not really known for their singing.

But they do sing – kind of. And now scientists on the Texas Gulf Coast are hoping that fact can help sustain their populations.

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