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.

Home prices in the Seattle and Portland metro areas are rising faster than anywhere else in the country right now -- about twice as fast as the national average.

Many Oregon motels are sold out and reservable campsites are going fast for an event that doesn't happen until the second half of next year. If you don't want to miss a total solar eclipse, mark August 21, 2017 on your calendar.

Community uproar about police shootings around the country prompted Washington state lawmakers to review the use of deadly force. A task force they convened meets Monday in Olympia to adopt its final recommendations.

TOM BANSE / NORTHWEST NEWS NETWORK

Piloting a jetliner was once a glamorous profession. Then came the 9/11 terror attacks, airline bankruptcies and pension cuts. Entry-level pilots worked for peanuts.

But now the pendulum is swinging back. Regional airlines across America -- including the Northwest's Horizon Air -- are grappling with a looming pilot shortage.

The state Fish and Wildlife departments in Washington and Oregon are seeking -- and getting -- help from hunters and hikers to track a perplexing epidemic. It's a hoof disease that causes heartbreaking scenes of limping or lame elk.

A project to demonstrate that jets could someday be powered by logging leftovers from Northwest forests gets a culminating test Monday morning. A Boeing 737 is scheduled to take off with fuel tanks filled partly with a wood-based jet fuel.

Alaska Airlines fueled a regularly scheduled cross-country flight from Seattle to Washington, DC with a blend of 80 percent regular jet fuel and 20 percent "biojet." In a sign of how safe the makers think this fuel is, the test flight will carry newly reelected members of Congress back to Washington, D.C., for a lame duck session.

Washington voters gave an overwhelming thumbs down Tuesday to a citizen initiative to impose a direct tax on carbon emissions. But that doesn't look to be the end of the story on regulating global warming pollution at the state level.

Even though party control isn't shifting at the Oregon State Capitol, there will be a lot of new faces. Nearly a quarter of Oregon House members decided not to seek re-election this year. But very few seats in the Oregon Legislature changed party hands during Tuesday's election.

Five Northwest ski resorts have changed hands in about the past month in a series of unrelated deals. The ownership of Stevens Pass and The Summit at Snoqualmie in the Washington Cascades and Cypress Mountain by West Vancouver changed in a 15-mountain transaction announced late Wednesday between a trio of holding companies back East.

A vast pool of warmer-than-normal ocean water off of the West Coast continues to mess with our weather and sea life. It's nicknamed "The Blob.”

The Pacific Northwest is certainly known for its rain, but the amount of rain that has fallen in October is one for the record books in more than a dozen Northwest cities -- and counting.

Spokane-based Avista Utilities and Seattle City Light --perhaps soon to be joined by Oregon's two biggest electric utilities: Portland General Electric & Pacific Power -- are diving into a new line of business: charging up electric cars.

They have plans to buy and maintain significant numbers of electric car charging stations. These will be installed at homes, private workplaces and public locations.

A hacked email from the Hillary Clinton campaign reveals some interesting names considered early on as possible Democratic vice presidential picks. The names released by Wikileaks Tuesday included Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and Microsoft's Bill Gates and Melinda Gates.

A startup company from North Idaho captivated donors and YouTube viewers worldwide a few years ago with its idea for turning roads and parking lots into solar farms. Now that far-out idea is available for public inspection for the first time.

The Washington state Department of Ecology says the fastest erosion on the West Coast is happening at aptly named Washaway Beach -- located between the southwest Washington towns of Grayland and Tokeland.

Most places threatened by erosion try to fight back. But the erosion at Washaway Beach is so rapid, the question now is to fight -- or retreat.

A food industry startup from Oregon is ready to sell you something completely different for your mid-morning snack. How about some roasted crickets in cayenne spice or original flavor?

Exporters are bracing for ocean freight price increases due to the collapse of Hanjin Shipping, one of the trans-Pacific lines serving the Northwest. Meanwhile, sailors and cargo are marooned on container ships in Northwest waters.

Some Northwest cities, counties and private developers are going beyond the minimums in the state building codes to reduce wildfire risk. They're banning shingle roofs and requiring fire-resistant siding. They're also making homeowners mind their landscaping.

Researchers from the University of Washington and NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center found the opposite of what they expected when they used a new scientific method to sample the waters of Puget Sound.

Washington state policymakers wrestled for much of the day Monday whether and how to regulate self-driving cars. Until now, major automakers and technology companies have successfully convinced Northwest states to hold off so there aren't 50 states with differing standards.

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