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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Japanese Dock
6:43 am
Fri June 8, 2012

Tsunami Debris Dock Gets Scrubdown, Attracts Onlookers

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.

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Japanese Dock
6:37 am
Fri June 8, 2012

Gawkers Welcome, Invasive Species Not, Around Tsunami Debris Dock

A heat treatment provides the finishing touch to sterilize the surface of a Japanese dock that drifted onto the Oregon coast.
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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Fukushima Recovery
6:51 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Trading Places: Pendleton To Fukushima And Reverse

Seiko Saijo moved into a temporary housing complex after the March 2011 tsunami washed away her home and fish shop in Minamisanriku.
Photo by Tom Banse Northwest News Network

You might find it unsettling to move to a place where some residents routinely scan their groceries with a Geiger counter. Also in this place, automated radiation monitors stand guard outside parks and schools. The place we're talking about is Minamisoma, Japan... just down the road from the nuclear reactors that melted down last year. But a 23-year-old art instructor from Pendleton says volunteering in this shaken city is like living a dream. She's helping out in her hometown's sister city. Correspondent Tom Banse visited Japan's Fukushima Prefecture and has this report.

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Japanese Tsunami Relief
6:54 am
Wed June 6, 2012

Follow The Money: Japan Disaster Relief

Minamisanriku buildings destroyed by last year's tsunami.
Photo by Tom Banse Northwest News Networ

Over the past year, people and businesses in the Pacific Northwest have contributed tens of millions of dollars to Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief. It's an unfamiliar situation for a wealthy, industrialized country like Japan to be the recipient of international relief funds. Correspondent Tom

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Olympic Training
7:02 am
Mon June 4, 2012

Eugene Track Meet Offers Preview Of Olympic Competition

Elite Northwest runners and throwers tested themselves against Olympic-caliber competition this weekend in Eugene. Some athletes found the experience sobering, while others drew encouragement with about two months to go before the Summer Olympics. Correspondent Tom Banse reports from Eugene.

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Washington Liquor Privatization Upheld
4:32 pm
Thu May 31, 2012

Divided Washington Supreme Court Upholds Liquor Privatization

Private liquor sales start Friday in Washington.
Photo credit: Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Private liquor sales start Friday in Washington. On the eve of the changeover, the state Supreme Court has upheld a voter-approved ballot measure to end the state's liquor monopoly.

The justices on the Washington Supreme Court reached a speedy decision on a challenge to the liquor privatization push. But the ruling was a close one. Five members of the high court upheld the voter-approved ballot measure, while four dissented.

At issue was whether the ballot measure violates the single subject rule. The liquor initiative includes provisions to privatize sales, raise the tax on spirits and earmark some revenues for public safety.

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Simple Majority For Taxes
4:31 pm
Wed May 30, 2012

Judge Rules Wash. Supermajority Requirement For Taxes Unconstitutional

Supermajority initiative sponsor Tim Eyman is already circulating another petition for this November. A link to the full initiative can be found below.
State of Washington

A King County judge Wednesday ruled that Washington voters cannot impose a two thirds majority requirement to raise taxes on the state legislature. Superior Court Judge Bruce Heller found voter approved anti-tax Initiative 1053 to be unconstitutional. But the ruling is far from the last word on the matter.

A group of Democratic state lawmakers and their allies sued to overturn the requirement for a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise taxes. Washingtonians have repeatedly approved that high threshold at the ballot.

But a county judge in Seattle accepted the plaintiffs' argument that the supermajority requirement conflicts with the state constitution. It says a simple majority is all it takes to pass a bill.

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Tsunami Buoys
6:19 am
Mon May 21, 2012

Pacific NW Tsunami Buoys Out Of Service

Ocean bound tsunami warning buoys like this are designed to provide early detection.
Photo courtesy of NOAA.

One quarter (12 of 39) of U.S.-operated tsunami warning buoys in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans are out of service. That includes the two tsunami detection buoys directly off the Pacific Northwest coast. But as Correspondent Tom Banse reports, the warning system has some redundancy built in.

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Tsunami Debris
6:35 am
Fri May 18, 2012

Spy Satellites Used In Search For Tsunami Debris

A personal message on this soccer ball confirmed it washed to sea from a Japanese school during the 2011 tsunami. The ball drifted ashore at Middleton Island, Alaska.
Photo by David Baxter. Northwest News Network

Another piece of confirmed tsunami debris – part of a restaurant sign – has washed ashore in Alaska. But marine scientists can’t say how much other Japanese disaster debris is trailing behind. This problem surfaced at a U.S. Senate hearing Thursday. As correspondent Tom Banse reports, researchers are now getting some access to spy satellite imagery.

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Women's Olympic Basketball
6:15 am
Mon May 14, 2012

U.S. Olympic Women Train In Seattle; Beat China 100-62

The U.S. Women's Basketball Team
Photo by Tom Banse Northwest News Network

The U.S. women's basketball team dominated China in an exhibition game played in Seattle Saturday. Final score: 100 to 62. The prelude to an upcoming Summer Olympics showdown coincided with the U.S. squad's first team training camp. Correspondent Tom Banse reports on why that's in Seattle.

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