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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Washington Representatives On Syria Action
4:45 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Washington Congressmembers Mostly Holding Their Fire on Syria Vote

Architect of the Capitol. The western front of the United States Capitol.

Originally published on Tue September 3, 2013 4:25 pm

Members of Congress from Washington state are mostly undecided ahead of an expected vote next week to authorize military force against Syria.

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New Sewage Business Model
6:50 am
Mon September 2, 2013

Startup With New Business Model Pitches Cheaper Sewage Treatment

Blue Array co-owners James Reilly and Victoria Jelderks at the Vader sewage treatment plant.
Credit Tom Banse

A startup company based in Vancouver, Washington is looking to up end the sewage treatment business. There are literally dozens of small Northwest cities wringing their hands about how to add treatment capacity for growth or simply update aging and failing infrastructure. This start up named Blue Array proposes to give interested cities and their ratepayers a treatment system for free with a service contract.

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Seattle Food Forest
4:38 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Edible Public Forest Takes Root In Seattle

Tom Banse. Volunteers put down burlap sacks to kill grass and weeds at the fledgling Beacon Food Forest.

Originally published on Mon September 23, 2013 5:56 pm

Over the past year, volunteers in Seattle have been clearing grass next to a city park and planting all manner of fruit and nut trees, berry bushes and vegetables.

It's a social experiment, where the eventual bounty from this public "food forest " will be open for anyone to forage. But can respect and sharing triumph over hunger and greed in the edible arboretum?

Planting favorites

There's something so compelling about the idea that it attracts as many as 100 volunteers at a time to scheduled work parties.

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Northwest Ecology
4:36 pm
Thu August 29, 2013

Spill Cleanup From Sunken Vessel Near Longview Continues

Washington Department of Ecoology. An oil-containment boom and oil-absorbing pads are deployed around the Granby.

Originally published on Thu August 29, 2013 3:16 pm

A spill cleanup crew remains on the scene Thursday near Longview where an old wooden boat sunk in a side channel of the Columbia River.

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Northwest Sequester Cuts
4:04 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Forest Service Cuts Maintenance Projects In Sequester Response

US Forest Service. A trail crew widens the tread on the Tubal Cain Trail in the Olympic National Forest.

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 5:23 pm

Remember the "sequester" cuts? The dust is finally settling and the consequences becoming real for a program in the U.S. Forest Service that sends money to timber counties.

At the beginning of sequestration, the Forest Service demanded that rural counties pay back some of the timber payments they'd already received and spent. But all of the recipients of the federal aid refused to go along with this approach to across-the-board federal budget cuts.

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Science
6:50 am
Mon August 26, 2013

Storied Research Subs Visit Northwest Coast

Upgraded minisub Alvin was loaded onto R/V Atlantis at the WHOI dock on May 13, 2013.
Credit Tom Kleindinst

A storied research sub that explored and filmed the wreck of the Titanic is making an appearance in the Northwest. The deep-diving submarine "Alvin" is in Astoria Monday,  August 26 through Friday, August 30 while its support ship changes crews. It's actually one of two well-known submersibles passing through the port town.

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Chimpanzee Art
4:19 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Northwest Chimps Compete In National Art Contest

Courtesy of Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 12:30 pm

Two chimpanzees living in the Northwest are competing in a national art contest.  The chimps and their caretakers are trying to win a $10,000 first prize for their respective sanctuaries. 

The abstract artwork entered by Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in Cle Elum, Washington was created using children's finger paint enhanced with sunflower seed shells. "It's kind of a mixed media piece," says sanctuary outreach director Diana Goodrich. She says the chimp artist is a retired biomedical study subject named Jamie.

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Northwest Bee Protection
4:44 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Controversial Insecticides To Carry Clearer Warnings To Protect Bees

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 4:25 pm

Northwest beekeepers are applauding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for requiring certain pesticides to carry a clearer warning label. The idea is to prevent home gardeners and farmers from inadvertently harming beneficial pollinators, like bees.

The EPA directive applies to widely used bug killers, rose and flower treatments, and grub controls. Future product labels will have to carry specific warnings under a picture of a bee.

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Local Festivals
6:57 am
Thu August 15, 2013

Longview, Washington Goes Nutty Over Squirrels

Longview celebrates the 50th anniversary this year of the Nutty Narrows Bridge.
Credit Tom Banse

It's natural to make certain assumptions about civic festivals. The Chehalis Garlic Fest will serve all things garlic. The Penticton Peach Festival will have peach cobbler. Bear stew is a big draw at the McCleary, Washington Bear Festival. But what about Longview, Washington's big celebration this Saturday, Squirrel Fest? No, they don't actually cook furry creatures at Squirrel Fest.

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Northwest Empoyment
4:00 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Unemployment Rate Staying 'Pretty Flat' In Washington State

Andreas Klinke Johannsen, Flickr

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 3:05 pm

Washington's statewide unemployment rate is staying "pretty flat" this summer according to a state labor economist. A fresh jobs report released Wednesday shows the unemployment rate ticked up a tiny bit to 6.9 percent in July, from 6.8 percent in June.

But state economist Paul Turek says he puts more stock in a different number from the monthly jobs report. He says the number of new jobs created last month continues to expand at a "decent" pace.

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