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" 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.  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.

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 beyond the reach of email.

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www.sos.wa.gov

Washington state set a new one-day record for voter registrations Sunday, topping 23,000 in a single day. Monday is the last day Washingtonians can register online in time to vote in the November election. Tuesday is the deadline to postmark a mail-in voter registration card. True procrastinators can register in person at their county elections office until Halloween.

A startup company from North Idaho captivated donors and YouTube viewers worldwide a few years ago with its idea for turning roads and parking lots into solar farms. Now that far-out idea is available for public inspection for the first time.

Solar Roadways / https://www.facebook.com/solarroadways

This weekend Sandpoint, Idaho, celebrated the debut of a local start-up company's idea for "solar roadways." Ultimately, the entrepreneurs envision roads, sidewalks and parking lots doing double duty as power plants.

A group of natural gas utilities in Washington Friday filed the third legal challenge this week to new state limits on global warming pollution. The private utility companies Cascade Natural Gas, NW Natural, Avista and Puget Sound Energy filed the latest challenge in Thurston County Superior Court.

A food industry startup from Oregon is ready to sell you something completely different for your mid-morning snack. How about some roasted crickets in cayenne spice or original flavor?

Exporters are bracing for ocean freight price increases due to the collapse of Hanjin Shipping, one of the trans-Pacific lines serving the Northwest. Meanwhile, sailors and cargo are marooned on container ships in Northwest waters.

Researchers from the University of Washington and NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center found the opposite of what they expected when they used a new scientific method to sample the waters of Puget Sound.

Washington state policymakers wrestled for much of the day Monday whether and how to regulate self-driving cars. Until now, major automakers and technology companies have successfully convinced Northwest states to hold off so there aren't 50 states with differing standards.

A South Puget Sound city has joined the fray over athletes protesting during the national anthem. The mayor of DuPont, Washington, scrubbed a planned Seahawks pep rally Saturday ahead of the Seattle team's home opener.

FIONA MARTIN / NOAA CLIMATE.GOV

 

What kind of weather might the Northwest be in for this fall and winter? Federal forecasters at the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center Thursday dropped their "La Niña Watch.”

Neither Oregon nor Washington are presidential election battleground states, so the region's TV viewers have been spared the attendant barrage of campaign commercials. But now the Libertarian presidential ticket is going on the air.

Fresh off the Olympic Games, Brazil now hosts the Paralympic Games. Athletes from the Northwest are packing up this week to fly south to compete in sports such as wheelchair rugby, sitting volleyball -- and goalball.

Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Nathan Adrian received a rapturous welcome home from his hometown of Bremerton, Washington, Monday.

The three-time Olympian got the full rock star treatment from his hometown. A police cruiser escorted Adrian from his boyhood home to his high school where screaming fans lined up by the hundreds for an autograph and a picture. Bremerton’s mayor gave him a key to the city.

Donald Trump's campaign has confirmed the Republican presidential nominee is coming to Western Washington for a fundraiser and a rally next Tuesday. There were rumors the campaign swing to the Northwest might not happen after Trump cancelled a similar stop next week in Portland.

There will be free admission to all national parks from Thursday through Sunday to celebrate the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. President Woodrow Wilson signed the law creating the National Park Service on August 25, 1916.

Washington Rowing

Eight more Olympic medalists with ties to our region stood on the podium this weekend before Brazilian music brought the Summer Games to a close in Rio.

Portland runner Galen Rupp returns to competition at the Summer Olympics early Sunday morning. Rupp will race in the men's marathon just a week after he finished fifth in the 10,000-meter run.

Washington state's above-average unemployment rate hasn't budged since last December. For July, the state’s Department of Employment Security Wednesday again pegged it at 5.8 percent.

A bipartisan coalition of Western U.S. lawmakers has renewed a call to change how the federal government pays to put out big forest fires. Currently, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management divert money from fire prevention and other programs to pay firefighting costs during bad fire years.

Bradley Parks / Oregon Public Broadcasting

There were medals a-plenty for Northwest athletes competing at the Summer Olympics in Brazil this weekend. One runner from Portland missed out on the podium in a dramatic race, but got kudos afterwards for sportsmanship.

In a stunning upset in Olympic women's soccer Friday, Sweden eliminated defending gold medalists and reigning World Cup champions Team USA. The quarterfinal match in Brasilia went to penalty kicks after the teams deadlocked 1-1 through 120 minutes of play.

DANIEL BASIL / Wikimedia

Thursday the action is on the water for Northwest athletes at the Summer Olympics -- provided the high winds on a Rio lagoon subside.

A Portland testing lab and a research team led by the University of Victoria have reset assumptions about the durability of biological evidence.

How durable? Wrap your head around 250,000 years.

A popular getaway destination for Northwest outdoor enthusiasts should be under new ownership by this winter. British Columbia's Whistler Blackcomb ski resort has agreed to a friendly takeover by Colorado-based Vail Resorts.

During the decade before the U.S. Civil War, a different conflict made a big impact on the future of the Oregon Territory. It's known as the Rogue River Indian War. But unlike the Civil War battlefields in the eastern U.S. or American South that receive hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, you’ll be hard pressed to tour -- or even find -- those battlefields.

Seattle Storm teammates Sue Bird and Breanna Stewart hit the court this weekend for Team USA’s first game in the Summer Olympics basketball tournament. Stewart is an Olympic rookie while Bird is gunning for her fourth consecutive gold medal.

Flashy Brazilian music and dance is likely to light up your TV screen Friday night when the Olympic cauldron is lit to officially launch the Summer Games. But a lot of the Olympic athletes from the Northwest are skipping the Opening Ceremony in Rio.

There will be plenty of Olympic athletes with local connections to cheer for when the Summer Games begin this week.

National parks will offer free admission on the final weekend of August in honor of the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. Before then, the park service centennial is being celebrated with music.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Olympic runners from the Northwest declared themselves prepared and ready to go at a final track meet stateside before flying to Brazil for the Summer Games. Hayward Field in Eugene hosted the first of what the organizers hope will eventually become a big money American track meet circuit, dubbed the TrackTown Summer Series. 

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