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.

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NPR Story
6:53 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Washington Governor Asks For Cooperation With Fire Evacuation Requests

Smoke billows over US Highway 97 near Pateros, Washington, on Friday.

More than a dozen wildfires in eastern Washington and eastern Oregon continue to threaten homes and cause numerous road closures. Washington Governor Jay Inslee Friday asked residents near those fires to heed evacuation notices when issued.

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Wildlife
9:44 am
Thu July 17, 2014

Endangered Species Listing For Wolverine Looking Doubtful

File photo of a wolverine

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 1:22 pm

A federal threatened species listing for the wolverine is looking increasingly unlikely.

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NPR Story
9:44 am
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.

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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Wildfires
2:35 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

How Wildland Firefighters Deal With Triple-Digit Heat

A portable, temporary air monitor was placed on the roof of the high school in Entiat and has been collecting samples since Thursday. Note the ground-hugging wildfire smoke in background.
Credit Courtesy of Chelan County Emergency Management

Fire crews across the Northwest are dealing with sizzling hot temperatures not just from flames, but also a general heat wave.

You can't wear shorts and a T-shirt to a firefight. So how do you stay cool and functional on the fire line when the thermometer is pushing triple digits? U.S. Forest Service spokesman Joe Anderson says "the main thing is to stay hydrated" and pace yourself.

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NPR Story
4:20 pm
Fri July 11, 2014

Want More World Cup? 2015 Women's Final In Vancouver, BC

File photo of BC Place in Vancouver, Canada

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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NPR Story
6:32 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

Coastal County Tries Tax Gambit To Stop Recreation Fees

File photo showing vandalism on Weyerhaeuser's St. Helens Tree Farm.

Originally published on Mon July 7, 2014 7:48 pm

Grays Harbor County, Washington, is the first county in the Northwest to strike back against pricey recreation permits now being required by some large timber companies. The county's commission voted unanimously Monday to take a tax deferral away from private timberland owners that charge for public access.

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Transportation
7:00 pm
Thu July 3, 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 7:54 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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NPR Story
5:55 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Proposed Tribal Recognition Changes Hold Promise, Pitfalls

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
4:44 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.

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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NPR Story
6:34 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

Western Cities Top Rankings Of Auto Theft Hot Spots

The top auto theft hot spots in the United States and the Northwest
Graphic by Kevin Mooney/Rankings from NICB

In what Northwest city is your car most likely to be stolen? According to a new insurance industry report, the answer is Spokane, Washington.

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NPR Story
5:03 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Yakima Labor Dispute Led To Presidential Powers Ruling

File photo of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 8:29 pm

A noteworthy decision by the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday about presidential powers stemmed from a labor dispute in Yakima, Washington. The court's ruling narrowed the president's power to make recess appointments when the Senate is not in session.

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NPR Story
6:01 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

Federal Judge In Portland Orders Changes To No-Fly List

Originally published on Tue June 24, 2014 10:17 pm

A federal judge in Portland Tuesday ordered the U.S. Justice Department and FBI to come up with new rules for the government's no-fly list. The court found travelers labeled as potential terrorists had been deprived of their constitutional rights to due process.

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NPR Story
3:51 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Washington State Jobless Rate Holds Steady In May

The unemployment rate in Washington state is holding steady at 6.1 percent according to the latest numbers out Wednesday from the state Employment Security Department.

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Economy
9:48 am
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 12:00 pm

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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NPR Story
7:04 pm
Mon June 16, 2014

Once Free, Many Private Timberlands Begin Charging User Fees

Weyerhaeuser says vandalism and illegal dumping like this on the St. Helens Tree Farm was a key reason for the new access policy.

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 3:06 pm

It is getting more expensive to be a committed outdoor enthusiast in Washington state. An annual pass for state parks is $30. A National Forest pass could be another $20 to $30. There are also fees for campgrounds and snowmobile/ski trail parking.

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NPR Story
7:09 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Expedia Begins Accepting Bitcoin For Hotel Bookings

Expedia is now accepting bitcoin payments for U.S. hotel bookings.

Originally published on Thu June 12, 2014 7:45 pm

Bellevue, Washington-based Expedia just announced that it will start accepting bitcoin for hotel bookings. The online travel site is embracing the volatile, virtual currency on what it calls a "test-and-learn" basis.

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NPR Story
5:30 pm
Fri June 6, 2014

The Blob: Not The Horror Movie, The Summer Weather Influencer

Sea surface temperature anomalies in degrees C drawn from NOAA/ESRL database.

"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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NPR Story
4:34 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.

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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NPR Story
9:13 am
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."

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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Mount Rainier
11:13 pm
Sat May 31, 2014

Six Climbers Presumed Dead On Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier

Originally published on Sun June 1, 2014 12:05 pm

Six climbers who were descending from near the top of Mount Rainier have perished in the worst accident on the snow-capped volcano in decades. 

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