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.


3:20 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

Prison Inmates Enlisted To Rear Threatened Plants And Animals

Inmate Joseph Njonge at work in the Stafford Creek Corrections Center conservation nursery.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed December 17, 2014 11:33 pm

The work of rearing threatened plants and animals for restoration to the wild takes time and patience and it is labor intensive. In Oregon and Washington, a growing population doing that work is inmates.

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scheduled to stand trial in January
3:45 pm
Tue December 30, 2014

Judge Mulls Whether To Dismiss Charges Against Soccer Star Hope Solo

File photo. U.S. soccer star Solo is scheduled to stand trial for misdemeanor domestic violence on January 20.
Nicole Miller Wikimedia

Originally published on Wed December 31, 2014 9:16 am

A municipal court judge in Kirkland, Washington, is mulling whether to dismiss domestic violence charges against U.S. soccer star Hope Solo.

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providing more state incentives
3:23 pm
Mon December 22, 2014

Oregon, Washington Seek To Juice Electric Car Sales With More Incentives

File photo of a Nissan Leaf recharging in Tumwater, Washington.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 6:03 pm

A coalition in Oregon and the Democratic governor of Washington want to juice sales of electric cars by providing more state incentives.

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Two million taxpayer dollars could go to waste
4:40 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

$2 Million In Taxpayer Dollars At Risk In Snake River Dredging Showdown

Some river cruise ships can no longer call at this cruise ship dock in Clarkston because of accumulated silt.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 5:22 pm

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making a high-stakes bet that it will prevail in a pending lawsuit over Snake River dredging.

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4:18 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

What Would You Do With A Few Seconds Warning Of An Earthquake?

A user of a ShakeAlert warning receives a message like this on the screen of his computer.

Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 5:07 pm

The new federal budget sent to the president's desk over the weekend includes $5 million for earthquake early warning along the West Coast. With this funding, an alert system should begin to roll out regionally next year.

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The Yakama Nation and neighboring tribes
3:27 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Tribes Object To Forced Opening Of 'Sacred Mountain' To Public

Rattlesnake Mountain as seen from the Horn Rapids area near Richland, Washington.
Umptanum Wikimedia

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 5:17 pm

The Yakama Nation and neighboring tribes are strongly objecting to a Congressional move to offer public access to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain, a place tribal members consider sacred.

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Drone Express
7:28 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Frustrated Amazon Ponders Taking Drone Delivery Testing Abroad

Amazon Prime Air would use unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver packages within 30 minutes or less .

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 11:20 am

A new letter from Amazon to the Federal Aviation Administration indicates the e-commerce giant is getting frustrated with the wait for approval to test package delivery drones.

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small drones
4:02 pm
Wed December 3, 2014

Head Of Pilots Group Concerned Toy Drone Flyers Don't Know Rules

File photo of a DJI Phantom 1 quadcopter in flight
Nevit Dilmen Wikimedia

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 3:27 pm

New data from the FAA shows the frequency of close calls between manned aircraft and small drones is soaring.

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Drone Near Misses
9:59 pm
Tue December 2, 2014

Pilots In Northwest Reporting More 'Near Misses' With Drones

File photo. There have been a number of close calls between manned aircraft and small drones in Northwest skies.
Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed December 3, 2014 8:03 am

Judging from holiday advertising, lots of teenagers and grownups will find a drone under the Christmas tree this year. But the increasing affordability and popularity of remotely piloted airplanes and choppers is leading to conflict in Northwest skies.

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Prisoners Help Restoration Effort
6:44 am
Mon December 1, 2014

Prison Inmates Enlisted To Grow Threatened Plants

Oregon State Correctional Institution in Salem is growing Kincaid's Lupine and Golden Paintbrush, flowers relied upon by the rare Fender's Blue and Taylor's Checkerspot butterflies.
Captain Chad Naugle ODOC

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 2:06 pm

In a growing number of Northwest prisons, inmates are rearing endangered plants, butterflies, turtles and frogs for release in the wild.

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Idaho's Seaport
5:11 pm
Tue November 25, 2014

Barges Running Aground At Lewiston As Dredging Controversy Drags On

Lewiston's port hugs the left bank of this aerial view of the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers. Clarkston is at lower right.
Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Tue November 25, 2014 3:03 pm

Lewiston, Idaho has had unusual bragging rights for the past 40 years. It's the farthest inland seaport on the West Coast -- 465 miles upriver from the Pacific Ocean.

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Drones in the Northwest Skies
9:40 pm
Sun November 23, 2014

FAA Takes Light Hand In Enforcing Flight Rules For Drones

A fleet of drones used for aerial photography by Portland-based Skyris Imaging

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 5:56 pm

Commercial drones are taking to the Northwest skies even though the rules aren't clear.

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double its footprint
3:13 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Delta Air Lines Resets Bar Higher For Pacific Northwest Hub

Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines are partners - and rivals - at Sea-Tac Airport.

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 9:01 pm

Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson said his company wants to nearly double its footprint at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

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use of drones
3:15 pm
Tue November 11, 2014

State Drone Regulations Not Cleared For Liftoff In Olympia

File photo of an Aeryon Scout UAV in flight

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 4:06 pm

The Washington governor's office unveiled draft rules for government use of drones Monday. It would replace legislation that Democrat Jay Inslee vetoed earlier this year.

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detected off the West Coast
3:50 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Traces Of Fukushima Radioactivity Detected In West Coast Waters

File photo of the Oregon coast at Lincoln City. Seawater samples taken directly at the shore along the Oregon and Washington coasts this year have all tested negative for traces of Fukushima radiation.

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 8:03 am

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute announced Monday that trace amounts of radioactivity from Fukushima have been detected off the West Coast.

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3:28 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Chilly Water No Deterrent To Growing Numbers Of 'Wild Swimmers'

Swimmers enter the water for a mid-October, one mile "excursion" at Alki Beach in Seattle.

Originally published on Fri October 17, 2014 10:22 am

More swimmers in the Northwest are trading the comfort of the pool for a workout in open water.

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growing market for scorched trees
1:10 pm
Fri November 7, 2014

Timber Salvage After 2014 Wildfires Begins In Fits And Starts

A small amount of salvage logging took place in 2014 along roads and around a campground in the Mount Adams Ranger District after the 2012 Cascade Creek wildfire.

Originally published on Fri November 7, 2014 10:13 am

Wildfires scorched nearly 1.5 million acres in Oregon, Washington and Idaho this year. And with increased demand for timber from lumber mills, there is a growing market for scorched trees.

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not been retrofitted with extra fencing
2:40 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

Death Of Child Thrown Off Bridge Renews Attention On Fencing

File photo of Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport, Oregon.

Originally published on Wed November 5, 2014 5:01 pm

A woman from the central Oregon Coast was arraigned in Lincoln County Circuit Court Tuesday afternoon on charges of murder and manslaughter in the death of her son.

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feral horse herds
3:10 pm
Thu October 30, 2014

Northwest Tribes Take Steps To Corral Growing Wild Horse Population

Horses in the road are a real danger on the Warm Springs reservation.

Originally published on Thu October 30, 2014 10:09 pm

Growing populations of wild horses in the inland Northwest are creating headaches for federal land managers. Wild and feral horse herds overrun tribal lands in our region too.

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celebrate World Tripe Day
5:27 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

Do You Have The Guts To Celebrate World Tripe Day?

Chef Matt Bennett came up with Cowboy Calamari for World Tripe Day.

Originally published on Thu October 23, 2014 8:07 pm

An Oregon chef is asking if you have the guts to celebrate World Tripe Day on Friday.

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