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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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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aimed laser pointers at aircraft
3:56 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

FBI Offers Big Reward To Rat Out People Who Aim Lasers At Aircraft

The FBI is expanding a campaign aimed at deterring people from pointing lasers at aircraft.

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 3:34 pm

The FBI is offering rewards up to $10,000 for information that leads to the arrest of people who have aimed laser pointers at aircraft. Deliberate targeting of aircraft in flight has increased significantly in the last couple of years in the Northwest.

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a primitive fish
3:16 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Lamprey Fishing Blessing Ceremony Has Tribal Sovereignty Undertone

Lamprey pieces (center) sizzle between salmon in a traditional preparation, which was served to attendees at the "blessing ceremony."

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 8:13 am

For centuries, Native Americans from Boise to Wenatchee to the southern Oregon coast have harvested Pacific lamprey, colloquially called eels. The ugly-looking critter resembles an eel, but it is actually a primitive fish with a distinctive, toothy suction cup mouth.

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Oregon Wave Project
8:10 am
Sun June 1, 2014

Submerged Wave Energy Generator On Track For Deployment Near Astoria

Computer rendition of the wave energy generator to be placed on the Clatsop County, Oregon, sea floor late this summer.

Originally published on Sun June 1, 2014 11:58 am

An engineering company based in Salem, Oregon, says it is close to deploying the first submerged wave power generator on the West Coast. M3 Wave Energy Systems plans a temporary deployment late this summer in shallow water off the northern Oregon Coast.

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devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan
3:46 pm
Fri May 30, 2014

New Wave of Suspected Tsunami Debris Washes Ashore

This skiff - suspected Japanese tsunami debris - was found Thursday near Moclips, Washington.

Originally published on Thu May 29, 2014 6:16 pm

A new wave of suspected debris from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan is washing up on Northwest shores. The latest noteworthy object to arrive, a large skiff coated with sea life, was found Thursday near Moclips, Washington.

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NPR Story
5:27 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

Long, Warm Summer On Tap According To Weather Service Outlook

National Weather Service is forecasting a strong probability of above-normal temperatures in June, July and August for most of the Northwest.

Originally published on Wed May 21, 2014 4:28 pm

The supercomputers at the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center have crunched long-term trends to produce an outlook for June, July and August. For most of the Northwest, the forecast gives a strong probability of above-normal temperatures.

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charged for allegedly feeding bears
4:10 pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Bear-Feeding Case Will Go To Court In A First For Washington

Accused bear feeder Doris Parks created a nine-acre wildlife reserve by buying undeveloped land across the street from her house in Ilwaco, Washington.

Originally published on Mon May 19, 2014 8:21 pm

A 70-year-old Ilwaco, Washington, woman has been criminally charged for allegedly feeding bears at her house on Washington's Long Beach peninsula. It is believed to be the first time someone has been prosecuted under a relatively new law against feeding large wild carnivores.

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Keeping Culture Alive
5:37 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Gathering The Stories Of Northwest People 'Left Out' Of History

Author LLyn De Danaan at home in Mason County, Washington.

Originally published on Fri May 9, 2014 4:41 pm

It started with the discovery of long-forgotten gravestones in a thicket of bramble and alder. That set one author on the faint trail of a feisty Native American woman and oyster farmer who lived in 19th century western Washington.

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deadly landslide near Oso, Washington
3:38 pm
Tue May 13, 2014

Landslide Tragedy Prompts Board To 'Take Stock' Of Logging Rules Around Unstable Slopes

The Washington Forest Practices Board heard presentations on the Oso landslide and landslide risk more generally from geologists and Oso survivors Monday.

Originally published on Mon May 12, 2014 6:04 pm

Washington state Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark repeated Monday that "It's still too early to tell" if there is a connection between logging and this spring's deadly landslide near Oso, Washington.

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