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" 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.  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.

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 beyond the reach of email.

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The Oregon and Washington Secretaries of State announced Friday that they have referred dozens of cases of double-voting or dead people voting in the last presidential election for possible criminal prosecution.

Intelligence experts say North Korea is several years or more away from having the capability to threaten the U.S. West Coast with a nuclear missile. But recent sabre rattling was enough to make Washington state senators hold a hearing Wednesday about preparedness.

Big names in Northwest business are coming together to deepen the financing pool for the next great tech startups. Microsoft and Madrona Venture Group want to integrate the venture capital communities of Seattle and Vancouver, BC.

One of Boeing Defense subsidiary Insitu's 45-pound high-tech unmanned aircraft joined the fight against the Eagle Creek fire this weekend.

The Eagle Creek fire has littered a section of Interstate 84 in the Columbia River Gorge with fallen trees and rocks and there are scores more hazard trees that should be cut. 

Oregon's Department of Transportation says will the freeway will stay closed at least through the weekend—possibly longer.

Washington National Guard soldiers and airmen are being called up to help with the rash of Northwest wildfires. Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on Saturday because of wildfires, which cleared the way for the activation of the Guard. 

St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, the flagship hospital of CHI Franciscan Health, is coming under fire for allegedly shirking its legal duty to provide charity care to the uninsured poor. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a consumer protection lawsuit Tuesday.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

 

Washington state's top lawyer Bob Ferguson says his office is coordinating a joint lawsuit by Democratic attorneys general in order to protect young immigrants from deportation. The Trump administration plans to phase out the so-called DACA program.

In the wake of disasters like Hurricane Harvey, you often hear calls to donate blood. In this instance, it was people who gave blood before the storm who helped the disaster victims.

If you give blood at this point, your donation is likely to stay home -- where it is welcome and needed.

The Evergreen State College in Olympia begins this school year with a drop in enrollment and an imminent hiring freeze. The conservative blogosphere is crowing that it's fallout from recent campus unrest, but the university administration disagrees.

A majority of large ship operators are cooperating with a request to temporarily slow down in the shared border waters between Victoria and San Juan Island. The Port of Vancouver in British Columbia is running an experiment there to reduce underwater noise that bothers whales.

A project to build a new runway at Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport will stay on track if the Washington State University Board of Regents approves a deal Wednesday.

When you call 911 from a mobile phone, software at the carrier and dispatch center triangulates your location. But in places where cell towers are widely spaced, like rural Pacific County, Washington, it doesn't work so well.

Ever been stuck in traffic and wished you could just levitate and fly over the crawling cars? Flying cars of various sorts entered the popular imagination more than five decades ago. Think “The Jetsons.” 

And now, a division of aerospace giant Airbus is getting ready to test a pilotless flying air taxi.

The solar eclipse is in the books, but the scientific analysis goes on. Teams of high school and college students scrambled Monday afternoon to locate and recover cameras and experimental payloads they launched to the edge of space during the eclipse.

The Washington State Department of Transportation will activate its emergency operations center on Monday morning in case solar eclipse traffic turns horrible. In Oregon, state and county emergency coordination centers were activated on Thursday.

Two Air National Guard reconnaissance planes were called in Wednesday by the National Interagency Fire Center to help detect and map wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. The twin engine, turboprop RC-26 aircraft will be temporarily based at Spokane's Fairchild Air Force Base and at Eugene's airport. In the near future, their assignment may be carried out by unmanned aircraft. 

A World War II veteran from the Inland Northwest traveled to a village in rural Japan Tuesday to personally return a "good luck flag" he picked up from the body of a fallen Japanese soldier on the Pacific island of Saipan in the summer of 1944.

"Taking the flag kind of bothered me because it is so special,” said Marvin Strombo, 93.

With hordes of eclipse chasers expected to pull out their phones to share the memorable experience next week, wireless carriers are deploying temporary mobile cell towers in Oregon and Idaho to boost capacity in the path of the solar eclipse.

The clock is ticking. We're just days away from the total solar eclipse on Monday, August 21. But we'll learn sooner than that whether huge crowds cause traffic gridlock in the eclipse's path.

One central Oregon city is not taking any chances.

In the mid-19th century, Emily Washines' ancestors in the Yakama tribe fought the U.S. Army for four years in what became known as the Yakama—or Yakima—Indian War. She said few people in the Pacific Northwest today know much if anything about the bloody conflict.

This month's total solar eclipse might be the most-studied disappearance of the sun ever, thanks in part to legions of citizen scientists from the Northwest and beyond.

The cluster of unmanned aircraft systems companies in the Columbia River Gorge led one online journal to dub the rural region east of Portland, "Dronetown, USA."

Haze And Record Heat Smoke The Northwest

Aug 3, 2017

  Our staff checks in from around the Northwest with tales of hazy days and record-breaking heat.

The state of Oregon forecasts up to 1 million people may pour in to watch the total solar eclipse on August 21. Emergency planners in central and eastern Oregon are hoping eclipse chasers will fill out a short online survey to help them staff up appropriately.

When a massive tsunami hit the northeast coast of Japan in 2011, waves of water overtopped sea walls, swallowed buildings and surged higher than anticipated. One thing those images prompted was a reexamination of the tsunami risk in the Pacific Northwest.

With an assist from Microsoft, Washington state’s Department of Transportation has launched a feasibility study of bullet train service in Cascadia.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Seattle raised strong objections Tuesday at a Congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., about e-commerce taxation.

Olympic National Park is inching ahead on a plan to reduce or eliminate its population of non-native mountain goats. A draft plan released Monday for public comment includes options to relocate or kill the animals.

If you liked the warm, dry start to our Northwest summer, you'll probably like the rest of it. There's no change to the dominant weather pattern in sight.

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