Tom Banse

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.

Commercial imports of elephant ivory have been banned by federal and international law for decades. But now wildlife activists are pressing West Coast states to pass their own laws to deter the poaching of elephants and rhinos.

Plant breeders, Northwest chefs and farmers are co-developing innovative new vegetables and grains. The bounty was sampled a tasting party in Portland Monday night.

A Washington state lawmaker who has been trying to make paid family leave available to all workers said a new federal grant will be a big help. 

The state employment departments in Oregon and Washington are organizing 'rapid response' teams to help nearly 1,000 grocery workers facing mass layoff.

Software giant Microsoft had several chances Wednesday to impress Chinese leaders with the company's vision of a "free and open" Internet.

Solar company REC Silicon Tuesday warned of big layoffs at a factory in central Washington if a trade dispute between the U.S. and China drags on much longer.

The administration of Washington Governor Jay Inslee has officially begun a rulemaking to cap greenhouse gas pollution from large industrial sources. Inslee is flexing his executive powers to bypass the state legislature, which has repeatedly chosen not to put a price on carbon.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet with titans of Northwest commerce Tuesday and Wednesday on their home turf: Think Boeing, Starbucks, Microsoft and Amazon.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will make a state visit to the U.S. next week. The first item on the itinerary is a two-day stopover in western Washington.

The state unemployment rate in Washington and Oregon was falling at a steady pace in recent years. But lately it's stuck.

Over the weekend, vampires were afoot in a small town on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Fans of a bestselling teen vampire romance series flooded into the town of Forks from all over the country.

Three police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a rock-throwing man in Pasco, Washington, last February will not face criminal charges.

It’s a dilemma many American families confront: when to ask mom or pop if they’re ready to move into an old folks’ home. For newer Americans, the very idea often clashes with cultural expectations.

Multiple times this summer, the sighting of a wayward hobbyist drone has grounded aerial firefighting aircraft at Western wildfires. But unmanned aircraft have the potential to be useful at wildfires too.

At high schools and universities across the Inland Northwest, student athletes have been forced to practice indoors due to dense wildfire smoke.

Unhealthy smoke continued to blanket large parts of central and eastern Washington state and north Idaho Wednesday. Some workers in north central Washington were sent home because the dense smoke was rated downright “hazardous.”

The incident command for Washington’s biggest wildfire requested a mental health team to help people in Okanogan County. A national nonprofit called Green Cross has responded to the call.

More firefighters continue to arrive on the front lines of the nation’s highest priority wildfire. It’s the 400 square mile complex of lightning-sparked fires near the Canadian border in north central Washington dubbed the Okanogan Complex.

The fight against the huge wildfires in north central Washington has turned a corner. Fire bosses have even started using words like “optimistic” and “great progress.”

The Boeing Company built more than 700 KC-135 Stratotankers for the Air Force in the 1950s to the mid-1960's. The majority of these "flying gas stations" are still flying today because of delays in building a modernized replacement.