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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Historic Boat
3:57 pm
Fri August 2, 2013

Former Steinbeck Boat Waits In Port Townsend Dry-Dock Limbo

Anne Shaffer Coastal Watershed Institute

Originally published on Fri August 2, 2013 4:39 pm


The Port of Port Townsend, Wash., is providing a temporary home to a piece of literary history. But the dry-docked sardine fishing boat once chartered by the writer John Steinbeck faces an uncertain fate. 


The 76-foot boat's original name was the Western Flyer. In 1940, John Steinbeck and marine biologist Ed Ricketts (who later inspired the character Doc in "Cannery Row") chartered the wood vessel for a cruise around Baja California.

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unequal opportunity employers
7:41 am
Fri August 2, 2013

Suspended BPA Executive Reinstated To Provide Testimony to Congress

BPA Chief Operating Officer Anita Decker
Credit Bonneville Power Administration

A top executive at the Northwest's biggest electricity wholesaler defended her agency in front of Congress Thursday. Bonneville Power Administration chief operating officer Anita Decker and her boss were both placed on indefinite leave last month. This, after the Department of Energy's Inspector General found evidence of hiring bias against veterans and retaliation against whistleblowers. Decker was reinstated for four days this week, just long enough to prepare testimony for the U.S. House Oversight Committee.

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BPA Hiring Scandal
3:53 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Suspended BPA Officer Testifies In Hiring Scandal

Bonneville Power Administration

Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 2:51 pm

The plot thickened Thursday in the hiring scandal that's enveloped the Bonneville Power Administration. One of the two top executives who was suspended last month told her side of story in public for the first time. 

BPA Chief Operating Officer Anita Decker testified reluctantly but voluntarily to the U.S. House Oversight Committee.

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Northwest Tech
4:59 pm
Wed July 31, 2013

'Hackerspaces' Double As Private Incubators For Entrepreneurship

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu August 1, 2013 10:17 am

"Hackerspaces" are popping up all over the Northwest. But these aren't dens of computer infiltrators.

What we're talking about are community workshops for tinkering, machine tooling, 3-D printing and any other hands-on creativity you can think of. Some market themselves under the more benign-sounding label of "maker space." These workshops are now drawing attention as private incubators for entrepreneurship.

But let's straighten out this name business.

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Washington State Ferries
4:50 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

Washington State Ferry Fares To Increase Over Next Year

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue July 30, 2013 4:33 pm

Fares on Washington state ferries are going up again. The Washington State Transportation Commission approved a two-stage increase Tuesday afternoon.

The fare increases are designed to meet a $328 million revenue target set by the Washington Legislature.

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Trapping CO2
4:12 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

Carbon Dioxide Injected Under Columbia Basalts In Climate-Related Demonstration

PNNL scientist Pete McGrail describes CO2 injection underway behind him on the grounds of the Boise Inc. paper mill in Wallula, Wash.
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

A long delayed experiment to demonstrate how a global warming gas can be locked up forever deep underground has finally started. Technicians working with the Pacific Northwest National Lab are injecting carbon dioxide down a well south of Pasco, Wash.

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Investing Into Citizenship
5:06 pm
Tue July 23, 2013

Foreign Investors Learn 'Bridge To Nowhere' Leads To Visas After All

Viewed from above Medina, Wash., the new SR 520 floating bridge takes shape next to the current bridge.
Credit WSDOT

For a while, it looked like a major highway project across Lake Washington near Seattle could end up as a "bridge to nowhere" for nearly 100 immigrant investors. But now, after a long wait, the federal government has given the green light to process the green card applications of these wealthy businesspeople in exchange for their help financing the new SR-520 floating bridge.

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Northwest Drought
4:22 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Drought Conditions Expand Across Inland Northwest

Droughtmonitor.unl.edu.

Originally published on Thu July 18, 2013 4:19 pm

Federal agencies have expanded how much of the Northwest they think is suffering from drought.

An updated map released Thursday shows 88 percent of Idaho's territory is now categorized in moderate to severe drought. Just over half of Oregon is similarly parched. Washington state is faring better with just a sliver of land on the Idaho border classified in drought conditions.

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Unemployment Rate
4:38 pm
Wed July 17, 2013

Washington Jobless Rate Holds Steady In June

The Washington unemployment rate stands at 6.8 percent.
Credit Andreas Klinke Johannsen / Flickr

The unemployment rate held steady in Washington state in June. It stands at 6.8 percent, according to the monthly update released in Olympia Wednesday.

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Cory Monteith
4:44 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

Coroner: Heroin-Alcohol Mix Killed 'Glee' Actor Cory Monteith

Actor Cory Monteith was found dead in a Vancouver, British Columbia, hotel room on Saturday.
Credit Greg Hernandez / Wikimedia Commons

We now know what killed Cory Monteith, one of the stars of the popular TV series "Glee." The British Columbia Coroners Service Tuesday said toxicology testing points to a fatal overdose of heroin mixed with alcohol.

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