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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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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Mudslide Cleanup
4:25 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Mudslides Close North Cascades Highway Until Weekend At Least

WSDOT. This is one of eight mudslides across SR 20, the North Cascades Highway.

Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 4:56 pm

Washington's Department of Transportation (WSDOT) doesn't know yet what day the North Cascades Highway will reopen. Intense thunderstorms over the weekend unleashed eight mudslides that have closed the northernmost route across the Cascade Range.

WSDOT spokesman Jeff Adamson says optimism is rising now that big bulldozers and other heavy equipment has arrived. He says his agency awarded an emergency contract last night (Mon.) to get more muscle on scene.

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U.S Visas
7:19 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Create 10 Jobs In The U.S Get A Green Card

Immigrant investors seeking U.S. visas financed the construction of this office and retail complex called "Home Plate Center" across from Seattle's Safeco Field.
Credit Tom Banse

What do these things have in common: an Idaho gold mine, a proposed wind farm in central Washington, a new hotel in Portland and the replacement floating bridge across Lake Washington?... They're all investment vehicles for well-to-do families seeking U.S. green cards. Under U-S immigration law, wealthy foreigners can get a green card by investing at least half a million dollars to create at least 10 jobs here. In the Northwest, an increasingly diverse range of projects are competing for such foreign investment.

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Hiking Speed Record
6:02 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Vegan Hiker Sets New Record On Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail hiker Josh Garrett
Credit Mercy for Animals

Two athletes have separately set new speed records for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. On Wednesday, a Bellingham woman completed the long distance hike in 60 days. Then Thursday night, a California man topped her by accomplishing the feat in 59 days.

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Track And Field
4:33 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Oregon Decathlete Ashton Eaton Pursues World Championship In Moscow

Olympic Decathlon gold medalist and world record holder Ashton Eaton.
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Olympic athletes from the Northwest are steering clear of politics as they head for Moscow, Russia, this week for the 2013 World Championships in track and field.

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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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