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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Endangered Spotted Owl
6:10 am
Thu March 1, 2012

Owl Detection Dogs Need To Overcome Some Skepticism

Max the dog has a nose for owl pellets and droppings.
Courtesy by: Lisa Hayward

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The latest plan to save the imperiled Northern spotted owl allows shooting an invasive rival bird, the barred owl. An important part of the recovery plan is getting accurate owl counts. Researchers have been experimenting with specially trained dogs that can identify spotted owl and barred owl roosts. But as Correspondent Tom Banse reports, it's not clear yet whether the technique will catch on.

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Imported Gas
3:37 pm
Wed February 29, 2012

BP To Import Fuel From Asia To Cover Wash. Refinery Outage

BP's Cherry Point oil refinery. ©BP p.l.c.
Photo by: BP

There's more evidence that a big oil refinery in Northwest Washington will be out of service for a long time. Refinery owner BP says it's arranging for replacement fuel to be shipped to the region from as far away as Singapore.

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BP Refinery
4:38 pm
Mon February 27, 2012

BP Refinery Shutdown Starting To Look Lengthy

Gas prices are moderately up due to oil refinery shutdown.
Photo credit: Andrew Lee Wikimedia commons

The oil company BP is zeroing in on a cause for last week's explosion at its big Cherry Point refinery near Ferndale, Washington. But the investigation and repairs are moving slowly. That doesn't bode well for gasoline prices in Western Washington and Oregon. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

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Bear Dog Force
3:48 pm
Fri February 24, 2012

Wildlife Police Acquire Special Dogs To Handle Bear Complaints

Officer Dustin Prater and his new partner Spencer. Yes, Spencer has a stuffed bear in his mouth.
Photo credit: WDFW Photo courtesy WDFW

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has increased its Karelian Bear Dog force by fifty percent. This breed of working dog has proven effective against nuisance bears. Correspondent Tom Banse says the idea is to re-instill fear of human neighborhoods.

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Native American Language
6:22 am
Fri February 24, 2012

"Talking Dictionaries" Help Preserve Endangered Tribal Languages

iPhone apps for learning the Canadian Inuit language Inuktitut (left) and Tuvan (right), a tongue spoken by a nomadic people of Mongolia.
Photo Credit: K. David Harrison Northwest News Network

VANCOUVER, Canada - Usually it is good news when the Northwest appears on a top five list. But this one is not. Our region ranks near the top of a list of global hotspots for disappearing languages. The reason is that speakers of Native American languages are dwindling. Correspondent Tom Banse reports on how digital technology is coming to the rescue of some ancient tongues.

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Trooper Shooting Suspect Dead
3:53 pm
Thu February 23, 2012

Man Sought In Trooper Shooting Dies Of Self-Inflicted Wound

Washington State Trooper Tony Radelescu.
Photo Credit: Washington State Patrol Photo courtesy Washington State Patrol

Police say the driver suspected in the overnight shooting of a Washington State Trooper has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Kitsap County Sheriff's sergeant Ken Dickinson says Joshua Blake shot himself as a SWAT team surrounded a mobile home south of Port Orchard. A tipster told officers the alleged shooter might be hiding in there.

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Nereus Project
6:31 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Ocean's Future: “Goodbye Big Fish, Hello Small Fish”

A Nereus Program computer graphic compares it to an ancient Greek Oracle.
Photo courtesy Nereus Program.

VANCOUVER, B.C. – In Greek mythology, the original god of the sea was named Nereus. Among other powers, he could prophesy the future. That’s why researchers at the University of British Columbia thought to name a project to predict future ocean conditions after Nereus. Now, the initial computer simulations are out. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

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Whaler Harassment Suit
4:43 pm
Thu February 16, 2012

Japanese Whalers Sue In Seattle To Stop Sea Shepherd 'Harassment'

A Sea Shepherd crew tangles with a Japanese whaling ship in Antarctic waters in 2011.
Photo courtesy of Sea Shepherd.

SEATTLE – A federal judge in Seattle Thursday refused a request for protection made by Japanese whalers. The whalers were hoping to put a stop to almost daily harassment by an aggressive anti-whaling group based in western Washington. Correspondent Tom Banse has more on the story.

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Environmental Hazards
4:52 pm
Tue February 14, 2012

Quileute Tribe 'Ecstatic' About Move Out Of Tsunami Zone

The Quileute Indian Reservation located on Washington's Pacific coast.
Photo by Wikimedia User User.Nikater Wikimedia Commons

"Ecstatic," "amazed," and "stunned." Those are some of the words being used Tuesday around the tiny Quileute Indian Reservation on the Washington coast. This, after the U.S. Congress slightly shrank Olympic National Park to allow the tribe to move out of a tsunami zone. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation soon.

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Washington Orca Mystery
6:46 am
Tue February 14, 2012

Whodunit Surrounds Bruised & Bloody Killer Whale Carcass

Orcas, or "killer whales," are among the most well-known whale species.
Photo by Wikimedia User Pittman Wikimedia Commons

LONG BEACH, Wash. -- The bruised and bloody carcass of an endangered killer whale washed ashore at Long Beach, Washington this weekend. An initial necropsy did not pinpoint a cause of death. Correspondent Tom Banse has more on an emerging whodunit.

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