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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Deer Relocation
4:32 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Feds To Relocate Rare Deer Threatened By Failing Dike

US Fish

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 3:58 pm

A federal agency plans a major effort to preemptively rescue about 65 deer upriver from Astoria. The animals live on a floodplain beside the lower Columbia River.

These aren't just any deer. They're an endangered species: the Columbian white-tailed deer. One of this animal's strongholds is a national wildlife refuge near Cathlamet, Washington. But now the Columbia River is on the verge of bursting through a failing dike at the edge of the refuge.

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Unemployment Rate
4:50 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Unemployment At Four Year Low In Wash. State

Unemployment has dropped to a four-year low in Washington. The state Employment Department Wednesday released the latest jobless stats. During December, Washington's unemployment rate fell to 7.6 percent -- one-tenth of a percentage point lower than the revised rate for November.

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Mileage-Based Tax
5:00 pm
Wed January 9, 2013

Washington, Oregon Consider Mileage-Based Road Tax

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 3:06 pm

PORTLAND - Washington and Oregon are getting serious about finding a replacement for the gas tax. Steadily improving fuel efficiency in cars is eroding the primary source of road funding in the Northwest. A new report to the 2013 Washington Legislature finds it "feasible" to have drivers pay by the mile instead. In Oregon, lawmakers have actually drafted legislation to do just that.

Suburban Portland SUV owner Mary Olson has possibly glimpsed the future of how we'll pay for roads, although it's tricky to spot.

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WSU Football Program
4:09 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

Pac-12 Review Clears WSU Football Program Of Abuse Allegations

Washington State University's Martin Stadium in Pullman, Wash.
Credit Wikipedia

An investigation by the Pac-12 athletic conference released Tuesday finds no evidence that Washington State University football coaches physically or mentally abused players. WSU's president requested the outside probe. He did so after an athlete who quit and the parent of another former player alleged the coaching staff was "out of control."

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Northwest News
2:44 pm
Mon December 24, 2012

Scientists Find Japanese Writing, Invasives On Likely Tsunami Debris Dock

National Park Service (Olympic National Park)

Originally published on Sun December 23, 2012 11:15 am

A reconnaissance team on the Washington coast has finally reached a large dock that washed ashore on an Olympic Peninsula beach early this week. The team found Japanese writing and Asian barnacles on the hollow concrete dock. That strongly suggests the hulk drifted across the ocean after last year's tsunami in Japan.

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Disaster Preparedness
5:41 pm
Thu December 13, 2012

Five Ways To Recover Faster From 'The Big One'

Basic assumptions about how to prepare for disasters like an earthquake are now under scrutiny.
Credit Wash. Emergency Management Division website

For years, emergency managers have urged people to stockpile enough food, water and supplies to last 72 hours after a disaster. In the Northwest, basic assumptions like that are now under scrutiny, especially when it comes to the risk from a big earthquake. Two committees in Oregon and Washington have been working for more than a year to come up with wide-ranging recommendations to improve the region's disaster resilience.

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Endangered Species List
6:18 pm
Mon December 10, 2012

Mazama Pocket Gopher Slated To Join Endangered Species List

The Mazama pocket gopher
Credit Kim Flotlin, FWS / Wikimedia Commons

For the third time this fall, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to add a Northwest meadow critter to the endangered species list. This time, it's the Mazama pocket gopher. But, the listing is fairly limited.

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Liquor Theft
4:42 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Wash. State Wants Liquor Retailers To Track, Report

There are now five times as many liquor outlets in Washington state than before privatization
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The privatization of liquor sales in Washington this year is having an unintended side effect: increasing theft of booze. In Olympia Friday, lawmakers quizzed top managers of the state Liquor Control Board.

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Metal Thefts
4:32 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Costly Metal Thefts Prompt Push For Statewide Seller Blacklist

As trafficking of copper and scrap metal grows, copper pipes continue to be a target for opportunistic thieves.
Credit Michael Pereckas / Flickr

Stricter recordkeeping requirements for scrap metal dealers and sellers have not stopped trafficking in stolen copper wire and metal parts. That's according to Northwest police agencies and crime victims. So in Olympia Friday, Washington state lawmakers promised to look at further steps, including a possible blacklist of suspicious sellers.

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Eco-sabotage Suspect
4:09 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Long Sought Eco-sabotage Suspect Turns Herself In

FBI Most Wanted Poster - Rebecca J. Rubin
Credit FBI.gov

A decade on the lam has ended for a suspect in a string of eco-sabotage attacks across the American West. The alleged Earth Liberation Front fugitive turned herself in at the Canadian border Thursday.

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