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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All Tech Considered
12:41 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

Digital Technologies Give Dying Languages New Life

In an undated photo, members of the Siletz tribe gather for the Siletz Feather Dance in Newport, Ore. The tribe is using digital tools to help preserve its native language.
Courtesy of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians

Originally published on Mon March 19, 2012 5:45 pm

There are some 7,000 spoken languages in the world, and linguists project that as many as half may disappear by the end of the century. That works out to one language going extinct about every two weeks. Now, digital technology is coming to the rescue of some of those ancient tongues.

Members of the Native American Siletz tribe in Oregon say their native language, also called "Siletz," "is as old as time itself." But today, you can count the number of fluent speakers on one hand. Siletz Tribal Council Vice Chairman Bud Lane is one of them.

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Rising Sea Levels
4:57 pm
Fri March 16, 2012

Study: 17,500 NW Homes In Harm's Way From Rising Seas

Hey, where'd the beach go? "King tide" in Victoria, BC dramatizes a possible future.
Photo Credit: elaen_anit, Flickr Northwest News Network

Seventeen and a half thousand. That's how many Oregon and Washington homes could be inundated by rising seas caused by global warming over the next century. The number comes out a study by the research non-profit Climate Central and the University of Arizona.

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Sea Lion Killing
4:27 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

Death Penalty Returns For Bonneville Sea Lions

California sea lion feasts on a salmon.
Photo courtesy of CRITFC Northwest News Network

The federal government has reauthorized the death penalty for the most troublesome California sea lions which congregate at Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River.

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Electric Car Fees
5:05 am
Fri March 9, 2012

Fee On Electric Cars In Wash. To Offset Unpaid Gas Tax

Electric car owner Dick Hauser lives in Olympia, WA.
Photo by Tom Banse Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Electric car owners in Washington state would pay a $100 fee under a measure headed to the governor's desk. The aim is to offset the gas taxes these drivers are not paying. The bill passed Thursday night in one of the final votes of this year's regular session of the Washington Legislature, as Tom Banse reports.

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Salmon Fishing Forecast
3:52 pm
Thu March 8, 2012

Banner Year For Ocean Salmon Fishing Projected

An angler casts into the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam in 2010.
Photo credit by Tom Banse. Northwest News Network

It's shaping up to be a banner year for sport and commercial salmon fishing on the coast. The Pacific Fishery Management Council has released its proposals for the length of the ocean fishing season and catch limits for 2012.

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Meat Substitutes
6:13 am
Thu March 8, 2012

Real Or Fake? New Meat Alternatives Strive To Make It Hard To Tell

Turtle Island Foods founder Seth Tibbott examines freshly made Tofurky Italian sausages.
Phot by Tom Banse Northwest News Network

HOOD RIVER, Ore. -- Northwest-born Gardenburger and Tofurky are vegetarian alternatives to meat. They sell well, but they don't fool any meat lovers. This year, food companies from here and abroad aim to debut fake meat products that come closer than ever to mimicking the real thing. Dutch researchers claim they can grow hamburger in the laboratory from just a few bovine stem cells. But are people really craving a Petri-patty? Correspondent Tom Banse explores that question.

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Megaloads Move to Pasco
5:31 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Last Megaloads Depart From Lewiston This Week

Alberta-bound "megaloads" stranded at the Port of Lewiston last winter.
Photo credit: Tom Banse Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. – If the weather holds, the last megaloads stranded at the Port of Lewiston will head out Tuesday toward Canada’s oil sands. These oversized truckloads of oil processing machinery have been very controversial.  Now oil companies have switched to shipping smaller loads out of the Port of Pasco.

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Rent Your Car
3:49 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Company To Offer Person-to-Person Car Rentals Regionwide

You will soon be able to rent-out your own car.
Photo Credit: Andres Engels Wikimedia commons

Competition in the nascent market for person-to-person car rentals is heating up. The latest entrant regionally says it can help any car owner in the Northwest temporarily rent their wheels to a friend or stranger.

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Northwest Oil Pipelines
6:53 am
Mon March 5, 2012

Quake Lessons From Japan: Pay Attention To Energy Resiliency

After a major earthquake, gasoline resupply may be dependent on petroleum barges like this one.
Photo by Yumei Wang DOGAMI

BELLINGHAM -- Sunday marks the one year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The tsunami destruction and the Fukushima nuclear meltdown garner the most attention. There was another cause of suffering in Japan's quake zone. In some places, you couldn't get gasoline for weeks to fuel cars and generators. The Pacific Northwest is prone to the same kind of earthquake. Correspondent Tom Banse reports emergency planners say this region's fuel supply lines are vulnerable.

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Washington Car Sharing
4:51 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

Wash. Legislature Paves Road For Personal Car Rental

Ride share companies are already prevalent in California and Oregon.
Photo credit: Wikimedia user Evolstephanieberkeley Wikimedia Commons

OLYMPIA, Wash. - The state of Washington is opening the door to a new flavor of car rental, as Oregon and California have already done. The Washington Legislature just voted to tweak the auto insurance rules so you can rent your wheels to friends or strangers when you're not using your car yourself.

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