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.

Ways to Connect

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Electric utilities in the Northwest have overachieved in meeting requirements to add renewable energy to their portfolios. That's according to fresh regulatory filings.

An audience of thousands is expected at the port of Olympia this Sunday to witness the conclusion of the annual Northwest Indian canoe journey.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Eight junior high students and their teachers from the Japanese tsunami zone arrive in Seattle Thursday. It's an unusual disaster relief effort. The schoolchildren are being treated to a free trip to escape the still difficult conditions at home, at least temporarily.

Patricio Lorente / Wikimedia

A second-time Olympian from Beaverton, Ore., will be the flag bearer for Team USA during Friday's Opening Ceremony at the London Games. U.S. team captains chose fencer Mariel Zagunis for the honor.

Meanwhile, one of the fans cheering the athletes on will be another Northwesterner who revolutionized the high jump.

Diane Gilleland / Flickr

The Northwest is known for its love of coffee. Now evidence of that is showing up in the Pacific Ocean. Researchers have found low levels of caffeine at half a dozen locations on the Oregon Coast.

It's a question all of us face sooner or later: whether to spend a good chunk of money to protect against a catastrophe that has a very low chance of occurring. A workshop that just wrapped up in Corvallis considered that dilemma in the context of Northwest dams and a magnitude 9 earthquake. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

Photo by Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Athletes going to the London Olympics commonly have stories of overcoming adversity. But few can top African-born distance runner Lopez Lomong. The one time "Lost Boy" of Sudan relocated to the Portland area last year. He's running for Team USA, but hopes to leverage Olympic success into greater aid and attention for his former homeland. Correspondent Tom Banse introduces us.

Photo courtesy UW College of Engineering

Two major earthquakes last year raised red flags for the Northwest. Some of the damage from those quakes in Japan and New Zealand resulted from a phenomenon called liquefaction. This is when the ground turns to jello or quicksand. Transmission towers topple, buildings sink and utility pipes break. Now, geologists in the Northwest have mapped the spots most likely to liquefy here in an earthquake. Correspondent Tom Banse begins our story in Japan.

Jim Barlow / Univ. of Oregon

An archeological dig at a group of remote caves in south-central Oregon may force some rethinking about how the first humans colonized North America. Scientists found the critical evidence in a form you might not expect.

Neil and Kathy Carey / Flickr

Job recruiters from booming Alberta, Canada see opportunity amidst the high unemployment rates of Washington and Oregon. They're in Seattle this week inviting unemployed skilled workers in the Northwest to consider moving north.

The next time a big wildfire erupts or an earthquake unleashes near you, Twitter, Google and Facebook might be useful places to turn. And not just you. Disaster response agencies are plunging into social media. They can develop better situational awareness by seeking out your online gripes and observations. Digital platforms also provide an avenue to give more frequent official updates and correct misinformation during a catastrophe. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

Photo by Shelly Pollock

More than 700 volunteers turned out Thursday to help pick up litter and flotsam on the Oregon and southwest Washington coasts. Volunteers were on alert for debris from last year's tsunami in Japan. There were some possible new finds on Long Beach, Washington. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

The fifth of July is a traditional beach cleanup day in Manzanita and Seaside, Oregon and on Washington's Long Beach Peninsula. The coordinator of Manzanita's cleanup estimates the three dump truck loads hauled away were "99 percent fireworks" related.

Photo by Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Two more runners and two javelin throwers from the Northwest claimed spots in the London Olympics on the final scheduled day of competition at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.

Runners, jumpers and throwers from the Northwest performed well in these Olympic Trials. In fact, more than 20 percent of the athletes on the U.S. Olympic track and field team have ties to our region. Correspondent Tom Banse looked for reasons behind the disproportionately high local representation.

A pole vaulter with roots in Seattle and Spokane hopes the second time will be the charm at the Olympics. Brad Walker secured a return trip to the Summer Games with a first place finish at the U.S. Track and Field Trials in Eugene Thursday night. Back in 2008, the former University of Washington Husky set a new American record, qualified for the Olympic team, but then didn’t clear a single height at the Beijing Olympics. Walker says he wants “redemption” very badly this summer.

It was a good night for local Summer Olympics hopefuls Thursday in Eugene. A very good night, in fact. A half dozen athletes with ties to the Northwest earned spots in the London Games. Correspondent Tom Banse reports from the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Team Trials.

The capacity crowd at Eugene’s historic Hayward Field saved its biggest roar for last… for the dramatic finish in the men’s 5000 meters.

The U.S. Olympic Team Trials for track and field resume Thursday afternoon in Eugene after a two day rest break. Thursday night, more athletes with Northwest ties step to the starting line than on any other day of the event. Correspondent Tom Banse has this preview.

Photo by Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

A fourth or fifth place finish tends to bring excruciating disappointment at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Top three qualify for the Summer Olympics, normally. But fourth and fifth place was good enough Monday night for two Olympic hopefuls from the Northwest. Correspondent Tom Banse has the explanation from the track and field team trials in Eugene.

The 2012 U.S. Olympic Team qualifying action continues Monday at Hayward Field in Eugene with the possibility of another all-Oregon podium sweep. Three Eugene-based runners are in the final of the men’s 800 meters. Earlier this weekend, three Portland runners swept the men’s 10,000 meters race at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for track and field. Still, the talk of Tracktown remains the world record breaking performance in the decathlon by Oregon native Ashton Eaton. Bryan Clay was the 2008 Olympic decathlon champion, but in these Trials he trailed far behind Eaton.

Photo by Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Oregon native Ashton Eaton installed himself as a gold medal favorite at the 2012 Summer Olympics with a dominating victory at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials this weekend. Eaton set a new world record in the decathlon as he qualified for Team USA. Correspondent Tom Banse reports from the Olympic Trials in Eugene.

Photo by Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

A dark horse in the sprints. A mother who’s competed at three prior Olympics. And a former NCAA pole vault champion from the University of Oregon. Those are your three newest U.S. Olympians with Northwest ties. Correspondent Tom Banse has their stories from the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for track and field in Eugene.

Oregon native Ryan Bailey showed early potential on the track. But few would’ve predicted a trip to the Summer Olympics for this formerly troubled football and track athlete from Salem. Yet that’s the unlikely turnabout Bailey can tell you now that’s he sprinted his way onto Team USA. Correspondent Tom Banse reports from the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in track and field in Eugene.

Wolfram Burner / Flickr

Qualifying action for the 2012 Summer Olympics is happening in three Northwest cities this week. The U.S. Olympic Trials in diving are underway in Federal Way, Wash. Meanwhile, track and field qualifying starts with a hammer throw competition on the Nike campus in Beaverton, Ore., Thursday. The rest of the track team selection unfolds in Eugene starting on Friday. Team USA is likely to be well-stocked with Northwest athletes.

Erik van Leeuwen / Wikimedia Commons

Dozens of Northwest runners, jumpers and throwers will compete for slots on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team starting this weekend. Once again Eugene, Ore., is hosting the U.S. Olympic Trials for track and field. The qualifying action could help determine whether the London Games this summer feature a love story.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Oregon State Parks managers have two new Geiger counters to scan possible tsunami debris that floats in from Japan. On the Washington coast, state health department scientists are now regularly checking marine debris and fish for possible radiation from last year's Japanese nuclear meltdown. The testing is mostly just to reassure the public, not out of grave concern that radiation will get here.

Office of the Governor / Wikimedia Commons

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire said her state doesn't have enough money to clean up tsunami debris that started washing ashore. And she wants the federal government to chip in. Gregoire made the remarks Monday during a news conference in Ocean Shores.

Alex Ragone / Northwest News

Emergency managers and National Weather Service forecasters have a new way to alert you to imminent danger. They've teamed up with all of the Northwest's major cellular providers on a system to broadcast emergency alerts to mobile devices. You don't need to sign up for anything; it's automatic.

Wash. Employment Security Dept.

The latest jobs report for Washington state contains a paradox. It shows strong job growth in the private sector. But at the same time, the state unemployment rate also rose.

Washington's Employment Department Wednesday reported a May jobless rate of 8.3 percent, up slightly from the revised 8.2 percent rate of April.

State labor economist Anneliese Vance-Sherman said in a conference call that the higher unemployment rate was caused primarily by once-discouraged workers resuming their job hunts.

Dozens of state Fish and Wildlife officers fanned out to seafood retailers, wholesalers and exporters late last week. It was a coordinated West Coast sweep. The cops were looking for mislabeled fish, poached product and banned seafood. Correspondent Tom Banse reports if you're a fish consumer, the results are mostly encouraging.

A giant piece of Japanese tsunami debris on the Oregon coast is now scraped free of what marine biologists worried were invasive species. The floating dock landed on the beach near Newport this week. Park rangers and volunteers worked quickly [today] Thursday to remove seaweed, mussels and barnacles, some of which are found only in Japanese waters. Meanwhile, the massive hulk has attracted hundreds of onlookers. Correspondent Tom Banse spoke with O.J Cortez of Reedsport.

Photo courtesy Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept.

Park rangers and volunteers worked quickly Thursday to defuse an invasive species time bomb that washed up near Newport, Oregon. They scraped off and sterilized a huge boat dock that was set adrift by last year’s terrible tsunami in Japan. Correspondent Tom Banse reports from the Oregon Coast.

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