Tom Banse

Regional Reporter

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. 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 beyond the reach of email.

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Privacy Breach
8:15 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Five Hospitals In Washington And Oregon Among Victims Of Computer Hack

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 9:56 am

A national hospital chain says it suspects Chinese hackers breached its computer system earlier this year. Patients whose doctors work with any of five hospitals in the Northwest might have had financial data stolen.

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emergency translation service
4:36 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

What Happens When 911 Callers Don't Speak English?

Dispatch supervisor Brenda Faxon and director Mark Buchholz in the Willamette Valley 911 Communications Center in Salem.

Originally published on Mon August 18, 2014 8:04 pm

In an emergency, the last thing you want to hear is, "I can't understand you." The reality is emergency dispatchers in the Northwest generally speak one language, English. But in our increasingly polyglot society, some people in distress inevitably can't communicate in English.

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rehabbed at Blue Mountain Wildlife
3:16 pm
Fri August 15, 2014

Triple Rescue And Rehab Ends Well For Lucky Ospreys

Rehabbed osprey flies away after its release Wednesday in Finley, Washington.
Andrea Berglin

Originally published on Sun August 17, 2014 5:23 pm

Three young ospreys and a parent are flying free along the Columbia River today after surviving close calls with litter.

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not going on the threatened species list
3:55 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Feds Decide Wolverine Does Not Merit Threatened Species Status

File photo

Originally published on Tue August 12, 2014 3:36 pm

The wolverine is not going on the threatened species list after all. Tuesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced federal protected status for the fierce and rare carnivore is unwarranted at this time.

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smashed the speed record
3:17 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Seattle Runner Smashes Speed Record For Full Length Of Pacific Crest Trail

Seattle native Joe McConaughy reached the northern terminus of the Pacific Crest Trail in record time Sunday.

Originally published on Mon August 11, 2014 10:23 am

A 23-year-old Seattle man has smashed the speed record for hiking the full length of the Pacific Crest Trail. Recent college grad Joe McConaughy crossed into Canada on Sunday, exactly 53 days, 6 hours and 37 minutes after leaving the Mexican border on the storied trail.

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changing fire season
5:58 pm
Fri August 8, 2014

Is Wildfire Severity Really Getting Worse?

File photo. Is this year's fire season the worst it has ever been? New research suggest it is not.

Originally published on Mon August 11, 2014 10:21 am

It might seem like fire season is as bad as it's ever been. But there's a group of researchers who question that prevailing wisdom.

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Osprey nests
11:13 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Fatal Attraction: Ospreys In A Bind With Baling Twine, Fishing Line

This is how ospreys' unhealthy affinity for baling twine can kill. Idaho Fish and Game biologist Beth Waterbury rescued this osprey in the nick of time.
Beth Waterbury Idaho Fish and Game

Originally published on Wed August 6, 2014 3:21 pm

Osprey nests are a common sight near rivers, lakes and bays in the Northwest. If you look closely with binoculars, you might notice some of these large raptors like to line their nests with discarded baling twine or fishing line. The problem is it can kill them.

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possible therapies for human
11:12 am
Wed August 6, 2014

How A Fat Grizzly Bear Could Help You Avoid Diabetes

Washington State University is home to the nation's only captive grizzly bear research center.

Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 5:41 pm

Washington State University’s mascot is the cougar, but the university is also home to the nation’s only captive grizzly bear research center. A new study involving those bears yields insights into possible therapies for human obesity and diabetes.

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many hurdles remain
4:07 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

Oregon Terminal Developer Gets Blessing For Natural Gas Exports

File photo of an LNG terminal in Nynashamn, Sweden.

Originally published on Thu July 31, 2014 5:09 pm

A proposed liquefied natural gas terminal near Astoria, Oregon, received the U.S. Department of Energy’s blessing Thursday to export to all overseas markets. It's a necessary approval to make the controversial project pencil out, but many hurdles remain.

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NPR Story
3:12 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Northwest Farmers Worried About Visa Backup For Legal Migrant Workers

File photo of workers at a berry farm outside of Eltopia, Washington.

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 7:03 pm

A breakdown in a U.S. State Department computer system that processes foreign worker visas has sowed major worries at some Northwest orchards.

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Listing for the Wolverine
5:28 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Endangered Species Listing For Wolverine Looking Doubtful

File photo of a wolverine

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 12:22 pm

A federal threatened species listing for the wolverine is looking increasingly unlikely.

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Alaska Air
3:27 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

Alaska Air Says It's Holding Its Own Against Delta Onslaught

An Alaska Airlines 737 plane.
Alaska Airlines

Originally published on Thu July 24, 2014 5:25 pm

The intensifying competition between Alaska Airlines and rival Delta Air Lines in the Western skies does not seem to be hurting the bottom line of either company.

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Fukushima radiation
3:00 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Donors Pay To Test Seawater For Traces Of Fukushima Radiation

Fukushima seawater radiation plume dispersal model by Rossi et. al.
Deep-Sea Research journal

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 4:47 pm

It's been more than three years since the Fukushima nuclear plant accident resulted in a spill of millions of gallons of radioactive cooling water into the Pacific. Oceanographers projected that it could take until this year for highly diluted traces of that spill in Japan to reach the West Coast of North America.

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budget constraints and already-full holding pens
3:02 pm
Tue July 15, 2014

Feds To Remove Fewer Wild Horses From Western Rangelands This Year

File photo of the August 2010 Wild Horse Gather by the Bureau of Land Management at the Stinkingwater Herd Management Area near Burns, Oregon.

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 8:44 am

The federal Bureau of Land Management plans to capture and remove fewer wild horses from Western rangelands this summer. An agency statement blames budget constraints and already-full holding pens.

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NPR Story
3:31 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Want More World Cup? 2015 Women's Final In Vancouver, BC

File photo of BC Place in Vancouver, Canada

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 3:20 pm

Organizers of the next FIFA Women's World Cup hope to leverage the unusually high interest in this year's men's tournament in Brazil to their benefit. Group play and the 2015 World Cup final will take place just across the border in Vancouver, Canada.

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Politics & Government
3:57 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Feds Warn States Of Possible Highway Cash Holdback

File photo of construction along I-90 near Roslyn, Washington, in summer 2012.

Originally published on Thu July 3, 2014 6:54 pm

The Idaho Transportation Department has suspended advertising for bids for future highway projects. Oregon and Washington may soon do the same.

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when a native tribe is officially a tribe
3:59 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Proposed Tribal Recognition Changes Hold Promise, Pitfalls

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 4:55 pm

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs wants to rewrite the rules for when a native tribe is officially a tribe in the eyes of the federal government. This again raises hopes for status and federal benefits among some unrecognized tribes in the West, but they still face a bumpy road.

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NPR Story
5:08 pm
Mon June 30, 2014

State Task Force Starts Work On New Drone Regulations In Washington

File photo of a drone hovering over a park in Wilsonville, Oregon.

Originally published on Mon June 30, 2014 3:44 pm

Imagine looking out your window to see a drone hovering outside. That happened in June to a partially-dressed Seattle woman who was startled and outraged.

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Delta is adding more flights
3:18 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

Delta's New Seattle Hub Could Lead To Lower Airfares

Port of Seattle fire trucks salute a Delta Airbus A330 as it departs for Hong Kong on Monday.

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 11:00 am

Can two airlines be partners and rivals at the same time? Seattle-based Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines are long-term contractual allies. But now the relationship is being tested.

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off the Washington and Oregon coasts
4:06 pm
Mon June 9, 2014

The Blob: Not The Horror Movie, The Summer Weather Influencer

Sea surface temperature anomalies in degrees C drawn from NOAA/ESRL database.

Originally published on Fri June 6, 2014 4:30 pm

"The Blob" was the title of a 1958 sci-fi horror movie. It's also the nickname Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond has given to a large patch of warmer-than-normal seawater off the Pacific Northwest coast.

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