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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Cross-Border Pollution Case
5:15 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Judge To Consider Cross-Border Columbia River Pollution Case

A lead and zinc smelter in Trail, British Columbia, dumped millions of tons of refining waste into the Columbia River between 1896 and 1995.
kootenayvolcano Flickr

Wednesday, a federal judge in Yakima will consider a long-running case about cross border pollution in the Columbia River. The Colville Tribes and the state of Washington are trying to force cleanup of heavy metals dumped in the river for nearly a hundred years by a Canadian smelter.

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Wash. Wolf Pack Kill
6:13 am
Mon October 8, 2012

Differing Ideas Offered To Avoid A Repeat Of Washington Wolf Pack Kill

Courtesy of USFW Services

The director of Washington's Fish and Wildlife Department Friday said he hopes never again to have to order the killing of an entire wolf pack, as happened last month. In Olympia Friday, cattlemen and wolf lovers offered the agency radically different ideas for how to avoid a repeat.

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Silent Earthquakes
5:12 pm
Fri October 5, 2012

'Silent Earthquakes' Ripple Under Cascadia

The past five weeks saw two swarms of "slow slip and tremor" in the Northwest.
Pacific Northwest Seismic Network

Parts of Washington and Oregon are in the midst of silent earthquakes this week. You can't feel this so-called "slow slip" quake and it doesn't cause damage. Still, scientists want to learn more about the recently discovered phenomenon.

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Toxic Cleanup Tax
4:07 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Wash. State Supreme Court Says Toxic Cleanup Tax Is Constitutional

The Washington State Supreme Court ruled on the toxic cleanup tax Thursday.
Washington Courts website

The Washington State Supreme Court has unanimously upheld the state's toxic cleanup tax. A ruling issued Thursday turns aside a challenge from gas station owners.

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Olympic Mountain Goats
6:49 am
Tue October 2, 2012

Rangers Say Hazing Of Aggressive Mountain Goats Is Working

USFS wildlife biologist Kurt Aluzas demonstrates "aversive conditioning."
Photo courtesy Wash. Fish & Wildlife Dept.

Forest and park rangers on Washington's Olympic Peninsula say they've reduced the risk from aggressive mountain goats. They did it by hazing the animals for much of the summer. Olympic National Forest reopened a popular hiking trail Monday. Correspondent Tom Banse has the story from Mount Ellinor, near Hoodsport, Washington.

For the past three months, the steep trail up Mount Ellinor has been closed. The reason for that is that multiple hiking parties reported feeling threatened by insistent mountain goats.

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Washington Cattle Farms
7:03 am
Mon October 1, 2012

Drought And Wildfires Force Ranchers To Look For Efficiencies

UI Professor Rod Hill and part of the university's purebred herd.
Photo Credit: Tom Banse

Ranches and feedlots are looking to cut their feed costs in the short term and even have an eye on making the cattle themselves more efficient.

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Washington Farm Workers Case
4:00 pm
Thu September 27, 2012

Court Upholds Damage Award In Farm Guest Workers Case

The Temple of Justice on the Washington state capitol campus.
Cacophony Wikipedia

The Washington Supreme Court Thursday weighed in on long-running case that has implications for labor shortages at Northwest farms and orchards. The high court unanimously upheld a costly damage award against a farm labor contractor that brought in guest workers from Thailand.

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Opium Paraphernalia
6:06 am
Wed September 26, 2012

University Of Idaho Gets Big Collection Of Opium-Smoking Paraphernalia

Donor Steven Martin and UI curator Priscilla Wegars hold antique opium pipes.
Photo by Tom Banse Northwest News Network

The "world's most comprehensive collection" of opium smoking paraphernalia has a new home; it's at the University of Idaho. A writer and collector, originally from San Diego, donated the exquisite antiques. Correspondent Tom Banse has the intriguing back story of how these so-called "instruments of self-destruction" came to a small Northwest town.

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Zombee Bees
5:14 pm
Mon September 24, 2012

Newly Detected Parasite Turns Northwest Honey Bees Into 'Zombees'

A "zombie fly" (Apocephalus borealis) lays its eggs inside a honey bee.
San Francisco State University

There's more trouble for your hard-working backyard honey bee. Researchers have confirmed the first cases of "zombee" bees in Washington state and in the Portland area. Infection by a parasite prompts the bees to embark on what's being called a "flight of the living dead."

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Wildfire Smoke
5:51 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Thousands Of Face Masks Distributed In Smoke-Weary Central Wash.

American Red Cross volunteers help to distribute respirator masks in Wenatchee, Wash.
Kyle Miller Red Cross

Washington state's Department of Health has shipped more than 20,000 face masks to central Washington towns blanketed by wildfire smoke. Air pollution monitors in Wenatchee, Ellensburg and nearby towns are consistently showing the air is hazardous to breathe.

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