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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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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Northwest Sawmills
5:30 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

Housing Rebound Has More Northwest Sawmills Buzzing

A rebound in construction, such as building new homes, is good news for sawmills.
Credit Vixwald / Wikimedia Commons

Sawmills in the Northwest have significantly ramped up production in response to the rebound in construction nationally. That's according to a market survey by an industry consultant based near Seattle.

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Landslide Risk
5:32 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Forecast For High Risk Of Landslides Coming True

File photo of a mudslide along an Amtrak line in Washington state in February 2011.
Credit WSDOT

Oregon's Department of Geology put all of western Oregon on notice for increased potential of landslides Monday. Across the Columbia River, state geologists in Washington reclassified Pacific and Clark counties to "high hazard" for landslides.

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Geothermal Power Plant
5:21 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Northwest's Second Geothermal Power Plant Enters Service

Geothermal energy plant at The Geysers near Santa Rosa, Calif.
Credit Dept. of Energy

The Northwest's second geothermal power plant has entered service. A Boise-based company called U.S. Geothermal built the project at Neal Hot Springs, near the small town of Vale in eastern Oregon.

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Northwest Landslides
4:39 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Heavy Rain Sets Off Landslides Around Region

Flood waters buried E. Main Street and Brown Park in Gaston, Ore., Monday.
Credit Randy Hoodenpyl

Heavy rains and high winds are making it hard to get around parts of western Washington and northwest Oregon this afternoon. Flood watches and warnings are in effect across a wide area of the Northwest. At least half a dozen mudslides have blocked highways and rail lines since this morning.

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Phone Book Delivery
5:23 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Wash. Ready To Hang Up On Mandatory Delivery Of White Pages

Phone books left on the street for recycling.
Credit Lulu Vision / Flickr

Utility regulators are on the verge of ending the automatic delivery of White Pages phone books to Washington households. Legislation to do the same in Oregon hasn't gone anywhere.

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