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.

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.

President Obama Friday declared an emergency in Washington state because of wildfires, freeing up more federal aid.

The "steady upward climb" in job creation around the Northwest continues this summer.

Everyone is accounted for and no one was injured by a flash flood and debris flow in Mount Rainier National Park. It happened Thursday when the terminus of the South Tahoma Glacier broke off and released trapped meltwater.

The military is being called in to help corral one of the numerous large wildfires burning in the Northwest.

A historically strong El Niño is taking shape according to climatologists watching the Pacific Ocean. Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said during a briefing Thursday that the current El Niño has the potential to develop into one of the most potent on record by late fall or early winter.

Depictions of possible poaching caused Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife Police to investigate and then clear the History Channel reality TV show "The Woodsmen."

Idaho fish and game regulators want there to be no doubt that hunters cannot use drones. In Oregon as well, lawmakers have tried to head off a fair chase issue before it rears its head.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

Idaho fish and game regulators want there to be no doubt that hunters cannot use drones. In Oregon as well, lawmakers have tried to head off a fair chase issue before it rears its head.

Two-time Olympian Nick Symmonds has been dropped from the U.S. team for the upcoming world track and field championships in Beijing. U.S. team managers announced their roster Monday.

Hanson Dodge Creative

Two-time Olympian Nick Symmonds has been dropped from the U.S. team for the upcoming world track and field championships in Beijing. U.S. team managers announced their roster today and the Northwest native is being left behind over a contract and sponsorship dispute.

In southwestern Idaho, biologists are purposefully making a racket this summer to study the value of natural quiet. A Boise State University research team is testing how wildlife and humans respond to noise pollution.

The Obama administration set carbon dioxide limits for electric power plants Monday. The objective is to combat climate change by clamping down on power plant pollution, especially coal-fired electricity.

The U.S. Postal Service has nixed a privately-funded campaign to turn a small town post office in central Washington into a major artistic attraction.

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