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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Central Washington Wildfires
5:27 pm
Fri September 21, 2012

Progress In Wildfire Fight, But Stagnant, Smoky Air Lingers

Heavy smoke from multiple wildfires continues to fill valleys on the east slopes of the Cascades.
Vladimir Steblina USDA Forest Service

In central Washington, fire commanders report progress securing fire lines and limiting the spread of wildfires in the direction of threatened homes. But smoky air continues to stress thousands of people in Wenatchee, Cashmere, Entiat and Chelan.

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Effects Of Wash. Wildfires
6:32 pm
Tue September 18, 2012

Wildfire Smoke Closes Schools; Tree Faller Dies

Heavy smoke from multiple wildfires continues to fill valleys on the east slopes of the Cascades.
Vladimir Steblina USDA Forest Service

A tree faller assigned to a wildfire burning north of Wenatchee has died. The U.S. Forest Service says the man became ill Monday afternoon from an unspecified cause. He was transported to a hospital where he later died.

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Japanese Tsunami Debris
4:05 pm
Tue September 4, 2012

Japan Offers To Contribute To Tsunami Debris Cleanup

The Japanese government said it will help pay for the clean up of some debris from the tsunami, such as this refrigerator found on Long Beach on July 5.
Shelly Pollock

For the first time, the Japanese government says it will help to cover some of the cost of cleaning up tsunami debris on American and Canadian shores. Confirmed debris swept to sea by last year's Japanese tsunami began to wash up here this spring.

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Northwest Gas Use
5:01 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Gasoline Consumption Drops In Oregon, Washington

Weekly gasoline use per person in Washington and Oregon has fallen to its lowest level in nearly 50 years.
Brian Sayrs Flickr

A survey by the website GasBuddy.com finds gasoline prices at the pump are stabilizing in the Northwest going into Labor Day weekend. Unfortunately, they're stabilizing right around $4 per gallon for regular unleaded on average statewide . If it's any consolation, a study by a think tank in Seattle finds gasoline consumption in Oregon and Washington is "on a gentle downward slide."

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Condit Dam Demolition
4:30 pm
Fri August 31, 2012

Demolition Of Washington's Condit Dam Nearing Completion

A file photo of Condit Dam before it was breached by explosives.
D. Kvamme PacifiCorp

Federal regulators have granted a short extension to complete the removal of Condit Dam on southwest Washington's White Salmon River. Originally, demolition crews were supposed to be done with the nearly year-long project by August 31.

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Taylor Bridge Fire
6:34 am
Wed August 29, 2012

Taylor Bridge Fire Declared 100 Percent Contained

Firefighters have contained the Taylor Bridge wildfire in Central Washington.
Photo by Tom Banse Northwest News Network

A damaging wildfire in central Washington has been declared 100 percent contained, this more than two weeks after it ignited. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

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Zip Line Parks
6:25 am
Wed August 29, 2012

Getting High In The Northwest On Zip Lines

Some zip line courses -- like this one at Northwest Trek -- add aerial challenges between the various zip descents.
Photo by Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Apparently Northwesterners are not afraid of heights and have a yen for adventure. We draw that conclusion because the industry of zip line tours and aerial adventure parks is booming in the Northwest right now. Within the past couple years, fully a dozen commercial zip line attractions have opened in Oregon, Washington and Idaho... not counting at least twelve more in British Columbia and Alaska. The revenue potential has some municipal parks departments looking to add spendy zip line attractions in public parks. Correspondent Tom Banse reports from Eatonville, Washington.

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Progress On Kittitas County Wildfire
4:24 pm
Fri August 17, 2012

Kittitas County Wildfire Nearing Containment

The Taylor Bridge fire jumped the Yakima River and several highways.
Bryan Flint Wash. Department of Natural Resources

Fire bosses at the scene of a destructive wildfire in central Washington are letting more evacuees return to their homes Friday.

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Liability For Taylor Bridge Fire
5:23 pm
Thu August 16, 2012

Liability For Destructive Central Wash. Wildfire To Be Sorted Out

The Taylor Bridge Fire started at this highway repair project on SR 10.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Emergency managers in central Washington have started to collect damage reports from businesses and homeowners affected by this week's destructive wildfire. That's a prerequisite to apply for federal disaster assistance. State fire investigators have established that the Taylor Bridge Fire was human-caused.

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Chimpanzee Sanctuary
5:51 am
Wed August 15, 2012

Chimpanzee Sanctuary Just Barely Survives Kittitas Wildfire

Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest executive director Sarah Baeckler looks at the partially charred outdoor chimp enclosure.
Photo by Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Firefighters on the scene of a destructive wildfire in central Washington are hoping to make major progress Wednesday toward containment of the blaze. The Kittitas County sheriff's office estimates more than 70 homes and cabins have been destroyed. The fire has chased hundreds of people from their homes. Amidst the ashes, correspondent Tom Banse found one unusual story of survival.

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