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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Women In Combat
5:16 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Women Soldiers Reflect On New Army Career Options

Spc. Heidi Olson and Major Sheila Medeiros reflect on their career options at JBLM.
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The Pentagon's decision to allow women in combat roles has some female soldiers rethinking their career trajectories.

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Labeling Seafood
5:21 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Authorities Seek Tougher Penalties For False Labeling Of Fish

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed January 23, 2013 11:49 am


OLYMPIA, Wash. - When you order that special filet at a restaurant or store, you're often going on trust that the fish actually is what the menu or label says it is. In Washington, two state agencies are asking for tougher penalties to deter seafood fraud.


Investigators for Consumer Reports recently found more than one-fifth of the fish they submitted for DNA identification was mislabeled at the point of sale.


Washington Fish and Wildlife police deputy chief Mike Cenci says the penalties for false labeling need to be stronger.

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Winter Weather
5:02 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

Three Month Outlook Forecasts Chilly Winter Ahead

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 4:46 pm

Just about all the cities in the Northwest have endured a stretch of abnormally cold weather. Now an updated three-month climate outlook suggests the past could be prologue.

The latest computer model run by the National Climate Prediction Center increases the likelihood for below normal temperatures during the next three months in most of our region. This applies to all of Washington, nearly all of Oregon and the northern half of Idaho.

Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond says to get used to "chilly."

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Japan Tsunami Debris
5:02 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Dock Confirmed As Tsunami Debris; Salvage Bids Requested

National Park Service

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 5:26 pm


A dock that washed ashore on a remote Washington beach last month is now confirmed as debris from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan. This news comes just as the federal government requests bids from salvage companies to get rid of the huge hulk.

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Converting Carbon Dioxide
4:52 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Seattle Firm Seeks To Commercialize Carbon Dioxide Conversion To Methanol

EPA

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 4:04 pm

A small engineering firm in Seattle says it has developed a system to capture carbon dioxide going up power plant smokestacks and convert it to methanol. The solvent is also known as wood alcohol and as an Indy race car fuel.

Brett Scott is chief counsel for Emission Resource Group. He says having a viable method to refine CO2 into methanol could make it worthwhile for fossil fuel burners to capture the greenhouse gas.

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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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