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.


4:50 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

Western Drought Response Kicks Into Higher Gear

Washington officials say the state is experiencing a 'snowpack drought.'

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 4:44 pm

California Governor Jerry Brown ordered statewide mandatory water saving measures Wednesday. Water managers are preparing for drought in Oregon and Washington state as well.

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Japanese Flags Returned
7:12 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Aging U.S. Veterans Seek To Return Captured WWII Flags To Japan

U.S. Army veteran Buck Weatherill brought this flag home from WWII.
Rex Ziak

Some aging veterans of World War Two are embarking on one more mission related to that long ago war. In some cases, wives or children are taking on the mission if the vet has passed away. The object is to return Japanese flags taken as war souvenirs from Pacific battlefields.

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Powdered Alcohol
5:26 pm
Tue March 24, 2015

Washington Lawmakers Consider Banning Powdered Alcohol

Palcohol creator Mark Phillips pours the powdered alcohol equivalent of one shot of vodka into a glass in a promotional video on the company's website.

Originally published on Tue March 24, 2015 5:05 pm

A bi-partisan group of lawmakers in the Washington legislature launched a move Tuesday to ban powdered alcohol.

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Washington Unemployment
7:38 am
Thu March 19, 2015

Washington Unemployment Rate Flat, Now Lags National Rate

Washington Employment Security Department

Originally published on Wed March 18, 2015 4:21 pm

According to the monthly update released Wednesday by Washington's Employment Security Department, the state’s unemployment rate stayed flat in February.

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Bicycle Laws
7:49 am
Tue March 17, 2015

Lawmakers Ponder Whether To Green Light Red Light Running By Cyclists

Credit Cian Ginty / Flickr


Lawmakers in Oregon and Washington are pondering whether to give bicycles and mopeds permission to run red lights under certain circumstances. Idaho did so nearly a decade ago in cases when lightweight two-wheelers fail to trigger the sensor to change a light to green.

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Refinery Workers Settlement
7:41 am
Mon March 16, 2015

Tentative Refinery Strike Settlement Should Help With Gas Prices

A tentative contract settlement should end a six-week strike at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Washington.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri March 13, 2015 4:25 pm

The United Steelworkers union and major oil refiners have reached a tentative contract settlement.

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Weather and Climate
4:27 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Unseasonable Warmth Waking Black Bears Up Early

Unseasonably mild winter is bringing black bears out of hibernation earlier than usual.

Originally published on Thu March 12, 2015 5:35 pm

The daffodils and tulips are up and so are hungry black bears. Our unseasonably mild winter is bringing black bears out of hibernation earlier than usual.

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Childhood Vaccinations
5:31 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Oregon, Washington Lawmakers Balk At Tougher Vaccination Mandate

NIAID Flickr

Originally published on Wed March 11, 2015 5:36 pm

Oregon and Washington lawmakers flinched within hours of each other Wednesday when it came to toughening mandatory vaccination requirements for schoolchildren.

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911 Calls
5:52 pm
Tue March 3, 2015

Nearly One In Three 911 Calls Are Accidental

File photo of call takers at work at the Willamette Valley 911 Center.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 5:59 pm

A new statistic from Washington state illustrates a problem 911 dispatch centers throughout the Northwest grapple with. About a third of 911 calls in Washington state are mistaken.

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Pacific Crest Trail
4:46 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Adventurers Complete First-Ever Winter Thru-Hike Of Pacific Crest Trail

Shawn Forry (left) and Justin Lichter arrived at the southern end of the Pacific Crest Trail on Sunday. The rain reminded them of the trek's first day at the Canadian border last October.
Shawn Forry and Justin Lichter

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 9:32 am

Two experienced hikers arrived safe and sound at the Mexican border Sunday, four-and-a-half months after beginning their trek in the North Cascades.

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