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" 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.  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.

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 beyond the reach of email.

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Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Over the weekend, vampires were afoot in a small town on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Fans of a bestselling teen vampire romance series flooded into the town of Forks from all over the country. They marked the 10th anniversary of the publication of the first book in the Twilight Saga. 

Three police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a rock-throwing man in Pasco, Washington, last February will not face criminal charges.

Multiple times this summer, the sighting of a wayward hobbyist drone has grounded aerial firefighting aircraft at Western wildfires. But unmanned aircraft have the potential to be useful at wildfires too.

At high schools and universities across the Inland Northwest, student athletes have been forced to practice indoors due to dense wildfire smoke.

The incident command for Washington’s biggest wildfire requested a mental health team to help people in Okanogan County. A national nonprofit called Green Cross has responded to the call.

Unhealthy smoke continued to blanket large parts of central and eastern Washington state and north Idaho Wednesday. Some workers in north central Washington were sent home because the dense smoke was rated downright “hazardous.”

More firefighters continue to arrive on the front lines of the nation’s highest priority wildfire. It’s the 400 square mile complex of lightning-sparked fires near the Canadian border in north central Washington dubbed the Okanogan Complex.

The fight against the huge wildfires in north central Washington has turned a corner. Fire bosses have even started using words like “optimistic” and “great progress.”

President Obama Friday declared an emergency in Washington state because of wildfires, freeing up more federal aid.

The "steady upward climb" in job creation around the Northwest continues this summer.

Everyone is accounted for and no one was injured by a flash flood and debris flow in Mount Rainier National Park. It happened Thursday when the terminus of the South Tahoma Glacier broke off and released trapped meltwater.

A historically strong El Niño is taking shape according to climatologists watching the Pacific Ocean. Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said during a briefing Thursday that the current El Niño has the potential to develop into one of the most potent on record by late fall or early winter.

Depictions of possible poaching caused Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Police to investigate and then clear the History Channel reality TV show "The Woodsmen."

Idaho fish and game regulators want there to be no doubt that hunters cannot use drones. In Oregon as well, lawmakers have tried to head off a fair chase issue before it rears its head.

Two-time Olympian Nick Symmonds has been dropped from the U.S. team for the upcoming world track and field championships in Beijing. U.S. team managers announced their roster Monday.

In southwestern Idaho, biologists are purposefully making a racket this summer to study the value of natural quiet. A Boise State University research team is testing how wildlife and humans respond to noise pollution.

Rennett Stowe / Flickr

The Obama administration set carbon dioxide limits for electric power plants Monday. The objective is to combat climate change by clamping down on power plant pollution, especially coal-fired electricity.

A pair of World War II veterans from the Pacific Northwest and their escorts will return 70 inscribed Japanese flags Tuesday directly to the prime minister of Japan.

The U.S. Postal Service has nixed a privately-funded campaign to turn a small town post office in central Washington into a major artistic attraction.

An Anchorage-based commuter airline is opening a new hub in Portland. Peninsula Airways, better known as PenAir, is a well-established Alaska carrier that only recently branched out to the Lower 48.

The parent company of Alaska Airlines reported the highest quarterly profit in its history Thursday despite stiff competition in the Northwest skies.

Don Ryan / Associated Press

The biggest crowd to ever watch a National Women's Soccer League match filled a downtown Portland stadium Wednesday night. 21,144 fans saw the Seattle Reign defeat the home team Portland Thorns one to nil. The sold out Providence Park is another sign of how women’s professional soccer is getting a nice boost on the heels of the recent Women's World Cup in Canada. But for how long?

Washington, Idaho and Oregon have all placed in the top ten nationally for job growth over the past year.

Autumn Veatch / Instagram

A north central Washington hospital has discharged a Bellingham girl who emerged from the woods alive -- two days after a plane crash. Sixteen-year-old Autumn Veatch  spent the last day and a half at Three Rivers Hospital in Brewster. Doctor James Wallace treated the exhausted survivor.

In a newly released 911 recording, the teenage girl who walked away from a mountainside plane crash reported she was the only one to make it out alive.

A sixteen-year-old girl from Bellingham, Washington, walked out of the woods Monday afternoon -- two days after surviving a small plane crash in the North Cascades.

The Washington Legislature finally adjourned its 2015 session Friday. The last piece of business was for the state House to approve $508 million in new spending on roads, ferries and transit.

Amidst further downsizing confirmed by the U.S. Army Thursday, the Washington National Guard got good news. The Guard’s 81st Armored Brigade announced it will shed its heavy tanks and armor to convert into a more nimble Stryker configuration.

The window of opportunity to prevent grave ecological damage to our oceans from climate change is closing. That's according to a paper appearing Friday in the journal Science.

A few minutes past the last minute, the Washington Legislature renewed an expiring tax incentive to promote non-polluting plug-in cars.