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.

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.

When lawmakers meet in Austin later this summer for a special legislative session, Gov. Greg Abbott wants them to curb the ability of Texas cities to protect trees.  

Gas prices could hit a 12-year low this summer. That’s as much as 40 cents lower than analysts thought they’d be in some parts of the country.

When Gov. Greg Abbott ordered a special session of the state Legislature to convene next month, he told lawmakers to tackle hot-button issues like abortion, property taxes and school vouchers. And then there were the trees.

Every morning hundreds of thousands of people traverse Austin's congested roads to get to work. Most of them have probably thought: There’s got to be a better way.

This is the story of one man who found it.

Researchers mounted air pollution monitors on Google cars driving around to record images for the tech giant's Street View maps. The result, they say, is a new way to measure and track air quality.

Coal is one of the big reasons President  Trump has ended the U.S. commitment to the Paris climate accord. He says ending a pledge to reduce CO2 emissions could help reinvigorate the coal industry. So we decided to ask people in the one coal-producing area of Central Texas what they thought of the decision. 

Christine Hawkes says her work isn’t all that glamorous.

“Sometimes when people ask me what my job is, I say 'digging holes,'” she says. "You know? It’s a lot of what I do is just digging up soil.”

Ask Texas State Demographer Lloyd Potter what caught his attention in a recent release of census data for Texas cities, and he’ll tell you: Houston, in Harris County.

“In the past three or four years, prior to the [2015-16] set of estimates, Harris County was the most significant growing county in the country numerically,” he says.

The U.S. Census is out with new numbers on which cities grew the most and which cities grew the fastest last year. Texas leads the pack in both categories.

From the hike and bike trail on Lady Bird Lake to Mount Bonnell, Austin is proud of its parks. But a new study ranking city parks around the country suggests that pride might not be fully justified. Austin ranked just 46 out of the 100 largest U.S. cities.

Building a better battery is the holy grail for people who want better technology. Now researchers at the University of Texas, Austin, say they may have found that battery — or something close. But their claims have sparked controversy.

It’s still a long time before the congressional midterm elections in November 2018. But a lot of candidates are already showing interest in running. And many of them are embracing an environmental message that, traditionally, has been kept on the sidelines.

Texas leads the country in wind energy production and, because of the way the state’s electric grid is set up, most of that power stays right here. But a plan that would allow the state to make money exporting wind and solar power is moving slowly. 

Judging from how hot it has been, this year could end up being Austin’s hottest ever. Heat impacts health, happiness and the environment. So the city is trying a simple approach to reducing it: planting trees.

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