Mose Buchele, KUT News | KBIA

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.

This summer volunteers are fanning out in 13 cities across the U.S. to — quite literally — take the temperature of their neighborhoods. It's part of a project to help protect people as the world warms, and in many places it's highlighting how the poorest areas suffer most from rising urban heat.

Take the Dove Springs neighborhood of Austin.

Like much of the city, Dove Springs was built for the car. Just off the highway, four lane roads with strip malls and apartment blocks lead commuters to winding blocks of 70s era single family homes.

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.

Winters are warming faster than other seasons across much of the United States. While that may sound like a welcome change for those bundled in scarves and hats, it's causing a cascade of unpredictable impacts in communities across the country.

Temperatures continue to steadily rise around the globe, but that trend isn't spread evenly across the map or even the yearly calendar.

When Arthur Mosely moved to East Austin in the 1980s he didn't worry about flooding. His property was not in a designated floodplain, and he thought of the creek that ran behind the house as an amenity. It guaranteed privacy and a green space full of muscadine grapes and pecan trees.

But over the years more houses went up and the creek flooded repeatedly, almost reaching his house twice. "All of this was water," he explains on a recent windy morning, gesturing to a wide swath of his backyard.

Greenpeace activists in Texas recently rappelled off a key bridge over the Houston Ship Channel, unfurling streamers and hanging in midair in a scene that looked kind of like high-rise window washers meets Cirque de Soleil. Their aim was to protest the oil and gas that funnels through the waterway every day by disrupting bridge and water traffic.

The warming climate means more intense rain in many places, and that's helping cause more frequent and more dangerous flash floods. In one example of just how quickly people can be caught up in them, you may have seen the video that went viral after a bride in New Jersey had to be rescued traveling from her wedding ceremony to the reception.

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.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline has prompted some head scratching in Texas. From member station KUT in Austin, Mose Buchele explains why.

By now, the surprise of cheap gas has probably worn off.

But drivers on the hunt for the very best prices have noticed a new trend: Small, independent gas stations are often the first to cut prices when the price of crude oil falls. This has a lot to do with how gas is bought, sold and moved from pipeline to pump.

A Dallas jury recently awarded nearly $3 million to a family who said they were poisoned by a natural gas drilling operation near their North Texas ranch. The verdict, reached on April 22, is being called a landmark by opponents of the drilling technique, called hydraulic fracturing or "fracking."

There's been a surge in earthquakes in the U.S. over the last few years. In Texas, there are 10 times the number of earthquakes now than just a few years ago.

Scientists say it's likely linked to the boom in oil and gas activity, meaning that people who never felt the ground shake are starting to.

Here's how Pat Jones of Snyder, Texas, describes the earthquake that struck her town in 2010: "It just sounded like some car hit the back of our house. We got up and checked around and we didn't see anything or hear anything else."

At Margaret O'Keefe's farm in East Texas, they grow high-quality Bermuda grass. The fields are flat and vibrant green, surrounded by woods of a darker, richer green. The family loves this land. O'Keefe inherited it from her mother, who divided it among eight children.

"She used to call it 'enchanted valley,' " O'Keefe says.

But her "enchanted valley" also lies in the path of the Crosstex NGL Pipeline.