Tom Banse

Regional Correspondent

Tom Banse covers business, environment, public policy, human interest and national news across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be heard during "Morning Edition," "Weekday," and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

Before taking his current beat, Tom covered state government and the Washington Legislature for 12 years. During the early 1990s, he worked in the Seattle bureau of United Press International. He got his start in radio at WCAL–FM, a public station in southern Minnesota. Reared in Seattle, Tom graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota with a degree in American Studies. In 1996, he spent two months reporting from Bonn and Berlin, Germany on an Arthur F. Burns Fellowship. In 1999, he traversed the globe to cover the Pacific Rim (Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan) on a Jefferson Fellowship.

When not sifting through press releases, listening to lobbyists, or driving lonely highways, Tom enjoys exploring the Olympic Peninsula backcountry and cooking dinner with his wife and friends. Tom's secret ambition is to take six months off work and travel to a faraway place where there are no radios.

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Electric Cars
6:02 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Oregon, Washington Seek To Juice Electric Car Sales With More Incentives

File photo of a Nissan Leaf recharging in Tumwater, Washington.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 6:03 pm

A coalition in Oregon and the Democratic governor of Washington want to juice sales of electric cars by providing more state incentives.

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Unemployment
4:08 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Washington Unemployment Rate Ticks Up Slightly Amidst Steady Hiring

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 3:51 pm

Washington and Oregon's latest unemployment numbers offer a paradox.

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River Dredging
4:58 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

$2 Million In Taxpayer Dollars At Risk In Snake River Dredging Showdown

Some river cruise ships can no longer call at this cruise ship dock in Clarkston because of accumulated silt.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 5:22 pm

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making a high-stakes bet that it will prevail in a pending lawsuit over Snake River dredging.

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Earthquake Early Warning
4:24 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

What Would You Do With A Few Seconds Warning Of Coming Quake?

The proposed early earthquake warning system, included in the federal budget this weekend, is designed to give a heads up about strong shaking coming from a distance along the West Coast.
Credit Andy Maguire / Flickr

The new federal budget sent to the president's desk over the weekend included $5 million for an earthquake early warning along the West Coast. 

The proposed early warning system can't predict earthquakes. It's designed to give a heads up about strong shaking coming from a distance. It has worked because electronic signals can travel faster than rumbling over the surface.

Depending on how close you are to the epicenter, U.S. Geological Service geophysicist Doug Given said you could get an alert anywhere between ten seconds to a minute in advance.

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Prison Rehabilitation
6:50 am
Mon December 15, 2014

Prison Inmates Enlisted To Rear Threatened Plants And Animals

Inmate Joseph Njonge at work in the Stafford Creek Corrections Center conservation nursery.
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The work of rearing threatened plants and animals for restoration to the wild takes time and patience and it is labor intensive. In Oregon and Washington, a growing population doing that work is inmates.

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Rattlesnake Mountain Access
5:25 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Tribes Object To Forced Opening Of 'Sacred Mountain' To Public

Rattlesnake Mountain as seen from the Horn Rapids area near Richland, Washington.
Credit Umptanum / Wikimedia Commons

The Yakama Nation and neighboring tribes have strongly objected to a congressional move to offer public access to a place tribal members consider sacred. That place is the scenic summit of Rattlesnake Mountain in the Hanford Reach National Monument.

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Amazon Drones
6:08 pm
Mon December 8, 2014

Frustrated Amazon Ponders Taking Drone Delivery Testing Abroad

Amazon told the Federal Aviation Administration if it doesn’t get the green light to test delivery drones, it could mean a relocation of jobs from the Seattle area.
Credit Amazon / Associated Press

A new letter from Amazon to the Federal Aviation Administration indicated the e-commerce giant is getting frustrated with the wait for approval to test package delivery drones.

An Amazon vice president wrote that drone engineering and testing could soon be relocated abroad from the Seattle area.

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Drones
4:09 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Pilots In Northwest Reporting More 'Near Misses' With Drones

There have been a number of close calls between manned aircraft and small drones in Northwest skies.
Credit Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

New data from the FAA shows the frequency of close calls between manned aircraft and small drones is soaring. Pilots or air traffic controllers logged ten disconcerting incidents in Northwest skies since April. The head of a local pilots group says "near misses" are bound to increase as hobby drones gain in popularity.

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Drones
7:37 am
Wed December 3, 2014

Pilots In Northwest Reporting More 'Near Misses' With Drones

The increasing affordability and popularity of drones creates concerns for future near misses.
Credit AP Images

Judging from holiday advertising, lots of teenagers and grownups will find a drone under the Christmas tree this year. The increasing affordability and popularity of remotely piloted airplanes and choppers is leading to conflict in Northwest skies. 

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Prison Rehab
6:36 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Prison Inmates Enlisted To Restore Threatened Species

Oregon State Correctional Institution in Salem is growing Kincaid’s Lupine and Golden Paintbrush, flowers relied upon by the rare Fender’s Blue and Taylor’s Checkerspot butterflies.
Credit Captain Chad Naugle / ODOC

In a growing number of Northwest prisons, inmates are rearing endangered plants, butterflies, turtles and frogs for release in the wild.

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