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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Northwest Sequester Cuts
4:04 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

Forest Service Cuts Maintenance Projects In Sequester Response

US Forest Service. A trail crew widens the tread on the Tubal Cain Trail in the Olympic National Forest.

Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 5:23 pm

Remember the "sequester" cuts? The dust is finally settling and the consequences becoming real for a program in the U.S. Forest Service that sends money to timber counties.

At the beginning of sequestration, the Forest Service demanded that rural counties pay back some of the timber payments they'd already received and spent. But all of the recipients of the federal aid refused to go along with this approach to across-the-board federal budget cuts.

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Science
6:50 am
Mon August 26, 2013

Storied Research Subs Visit Northwest Coast

Upgraded minisub Alvin was loaded onto R/V Atlantis at the WHOI dock on May 13, 2013.
Credit Tom Kleindinst

A storied research sub that explored and filmed the wreck of the Titanic is making an appearance in the Northwest. The deep-diving submarine "Alvin" is in Astoria Monday,  August 26 through Friday, August 30 while its support ship changes crews. It's actually one of two well-known submersibles passing through the port town.

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Chimpanzee Art
4:19 pm
Mon August 19, 2013

Northwest Chimps Compete In National Art Contest

Courtesy of Chimpanzee Sanctuary NW

Originally published on Mon August 19, 2013 12:30 pm

Two chimpanzees living in the Northwest are competing in a national art contest.  The chimps and their caretakers are trying to win a $10,000 first prize for their respective sanctuaries. 

The abstract artwork entered by Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest in Cle Elum, Washington was created using children's finger paint enhanced with sunflower seed shells. "It's kind of a mixed media piece," says sanctuary outreach director Diana Goodrich. She says the chimp artist is a retired biomedical study subject named Jamie.

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Northwest Bee Protection
4:44 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Controversial Insecticides To Carry Clearer Warnings To Protect Bees

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri August 16, 2013 4:25 pm

Northwest beekeepers are applauding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for requiring certain pesticides to carry a clearer warning label. The idea is to prevent home gardeners and farmers from inadvertently harming beneficial pollinators, like bees.

The EPA directive applies to widely used bug killers, rose and flower treatments, and grub controls. Future product labels will have to carry specific warnings under a picture of a bee.

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Local Festivals
6:57 am
Thu August 15, 2013

Longview, Washington Goes Nutty Over Squirrels

Longview celebrates the 50th anniversary this year of the Nutty Narrows Bridge.
Credit Tom Banse

It's natural to make certain assumptions about civic festivals. The Chehalis Garlic Fest will serve all things garlic. The Penticton Peach Festival will have peach cobbler. Bear stew is a big draw at the McCleary, Washington Bear Festival. But what about Longview, Washington's big celebration this Saturday, Squirrel Fest? No, they don't actually cook furry creatures at Squirrel Fest.

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Northwest Empoyment
4:00 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Unemployment Rate Staying 'Pretty Flat' In Washington State

Andreas Klinke Johannsen, Flickr

Originally published on Wed August 14, 2013 3:05 pm

Washington's statewide unemployment rate is staying "pretty flat" this summer according to a state labor economist. A fresh jobs report released Wednesday shows the unemployment rate ticked up a tiny bit to 6.9 percent in July, from 6.8 percent in June.

But state economist Paul Turek says he puts more stock in a different number from the monthly jobs report. He says the number of new jobs created last month continues to expand at a "decent" pace.

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Mudslide Cleanup
4:25 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Mudslides Close North Cascades Highway Until Weekend At Least

WSDOT. This is one of eight mudslides across SR 20, the North Cascades Highway.

Originally published on Tue August 13, 2013 4:56 pm

Washington's Department of Transportation (WSDOT) doesn't know yet what day the North Cascades Highway will reopen. Intense thunderstorms over the weekend unleashed eight mudslides that have closed the northernmost route across the Cascade Range.

WSDOT spokesman Jeff Adamson says optimism is rising now that big bulldozers and other heavy equipment has arrived. He says his agency awarded an emergency contract last night (Mon.) to get more muscle on scene.

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U.S Visas
7:19 am
Tue August 13, 2013

Create 10 Jobs In The U.S Get A Green Card

Immigrant investors seeking U.S. visas financed the construction of this office and retail complex called "Home Plate Center" across from Seattle's Safeco Field.
Credit Tom Banse

What do these things have in common: an Idaho gold mine, a proposed wind farm in central Washington, a new hotel in Portland and the replacement floating bridge across Lake Washington?... They're all investment vehicles for well-to-do families seeking U.S. green cards. Under U-S immigration law, wealthy foreigners can get a green card by investing at least half a million dollars to create at least 10 jobs here. In the Northwest, an increasingly diverse range of projects are competing for such foreign investment.

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Hiking Speed Record
6:02 pm
Fri August 9, 2013

Vegan Hiker Sets New Record On Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail hiker Josh Garrett
Credit Mercy for Animals

Two athletes have separately set new speed records for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. On Wednesday, a Bellingham woman completed the long distance hike in 60 days. Then Thursday night, a California man topped her by accomplishing the feat in 59 days.

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Track And Field
4:33 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Oregon Decathlete Ashton Eaton Pursues World Championship In Moscow

Olympic Decathlon gold medalist and world record holder Ashton Eaton.
Credit Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Olympic athletes from the Northwest are steering clear of politics as they head for Moscow, Russia, this week for the 2013 World Championships in track and field.

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