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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Tsunami Cleanup
6:20 am
Thu April 26, 2012

Tsunami Debris Cleanup Here Depends Mostly On You

Debris off the Honshu Coast soon after the tsunami.
Photo courtesy U.S. Navy

The first items of debris swept into the Pacific Ocean by last year's big tsunami in Japan are turning up on the Northwest coast. More is out there drifting our way. The state of Washington hosted a meeting Wednesday to prepare local governments and beachgoers for what to do about this. Oregon held similar meetings last week. Here's the takeaway: tsunami debris pickup depends largely on you. Correspondent Tom Banse is beach side with the latest.

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Tsunami Debris
4:54 pm
Wed April 25, 2012

Cost Recovery Part Of West Coast Tsunami Debris Cleanup Discussion

Debris in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Japan after tsunami.
Photo Credit: United States Navy

Thursday in Ocean Shores, Washington, dozens of people from government, tribes and community groups strategized how to respond to marine debris from last year's Japanese tsunami.

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Liqour Store Bids
3:27 pm
Mon April 23, 2012

State Liquor Store Auction Rakes In Nearly $31 Million

This state-run liquor store in downtown Olympia was among those auctioned off.
Photo Credit: Tom Banse Northwest News Network

This month's auction of state-run liquor stores in Washington raked in nearly $31 million. The state liquor control board revealed the winning bidders Monday.

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Northwest Olympic Hopefuls
5:57 am
Mon April 23, 2012

Olympic Hopefuls Get Creative To Finance Road To London Games

Olympian Nick Symmonds sports the results of an eBay auction on his left shoulder.
Photo courtesy Hanson Dodge Creative

Some Olympic hopefuls are lucky. They have six-figure endorsement contracts and can concentrate solely on training for peak performance. More commonly, dreams of Olympic glory mean scrounging for dollars. One runner from Eugene even auctioned his left shoulder on eBay recently. Correspondent Tom Banse reports on some creative personal fundraising by elite local athletes.

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Alaska Airlines
3:48 pm
Thu April 19, 2012

Alaska Airlines Navigating Through Rising Fuel Costs

Alaska Air Group announced a profit for the 12th-consecutive quarter.
Photo courtesy Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines and its subsidiary Horizon Air continue to make money despite sharply higher fuel prices. Executives with the Seattle based airline group Thursday reported a twelfth consecutive quarterly profit. CEO elect Brad Tilden says the 28 million dollar net profit in this year's first quarter is "marginally" smaller than the same quarter last year.

Brad Tilden: "Given this quarter's solid results and the current demand environment, we're cautiously optimistic about 2012. The biggest headwind is high fuel prices and their impact both on our cost structure and on the pocketbooks of our customers."

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New Earthquake Faults
6:09 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

Geologists Identify New Earthquake Faults Near Bellingham

This USGS map shows the known fault lines around northwestern Washington prior to the recent study.
Photo Credit: USGS Northwest News Network

Geologists have discovered two previously unknown earthquake faults, and possibly a third, near Bellingham, Wash. The scientists working for the U.S. Geological Survey believe the shallow faults are capable of spawning damaging tremors.

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Wash. Unemployment
3:52 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

March Unemployment Rate Flat In Wash.

A day after Oregon delivered a virtually unchanged monthly jobs report for March, neighboring Washington did the same. Washington's employment department pegged the state's unemployment rate last month at 8.3 percent. That's the same as the revised rate for February.

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Earthquake Warning System
5:12 pm
Tue April 17, 2012

Prototype Early Warning System Worked During Cal. Quake Friday

This GPS station near the summit of Mount Olympus in Olympic National Park could be part of a future earthquake detection and early warning system.
Photo credit: Tim Melbourne, CWU Northwest News Network

A prototype, earthquake early warning system, worked as designed when an actual quake gently shook California last Friday. Researchers reported the results Tuesday at the annual meeting of American seismologists.

Last year, a private foundation in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey gave a multimillion dollar grant to create an automated earthquake warning system for the Pacific Coast states. The idea is to provide advance notice to prepare people for severe shaking. It could come via a cell phone alert or a pop-up on your computer or TV screen.

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NW Farmers Bullish
4:23 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

NW Farm Economy Described As Mostly Bullish Entering Spring

Whitman County, WA farm
Photo Credit: Tom Banse Northwest News Network

A new market survey finds many of the region's farmers in an optimistic mood because demand is strong and commodity prices are high. Exceptions to the overall trend include dairy and onion farmers.

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Resevoir Draining
4:16 pm
Mon April 16, 2012

Army Corps Getting Ready For "Big Water"

The Grand Coulee Dam is one of many dams being "drafted" to release water.
Photo Credit: United States Bureau of Reclamation

GRAND COULEE DAM, Wash. -- Federal water and dam managers are draining reservoirs in the Columbia and Snake River basins to get ready for "big water" coursing downriver. In recent weeks, the Army Corps of Engineers has called for bigger drawdowns, or as the agency calls it "drafting", to protect against flooding. Supervisory engineer Peter Brooks says more room is needed to catch runoff from the bountiful snows of March.

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