Tom Banse

Regional Correspondent

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from 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 found online and heard on-air 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.  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.

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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Oregon farmers planted the state’s first legal crops of industrial hemp a couple of years ago. Now the first Washington state farmer to plant the non-drug cousin of marijuana has harvested the crop. 


Hemp entrepreneur Cory Sharp is fairly happy with Washington’s first legal crop in almost 90 years. His farmer partners harvested 105 acres earlier this month from irrigated fields near Moses Lake. 


But the celebration is tempered because the crop is unsold.


The Oregon and Washington Cascades are getting their first significant snowfall of the season at mountain pass level Thursday. It's a possible harbinger of a cool and snowy winter.

There's one week left for North American cities to assemble their bids to lure one of the biggest economic prizes in years, the second Amazon headquarters. At least half a dozen Pacific Northwest places plan to submit proposals.

History buffs, politicians and park rangers gathered Friday to celebrate the restoration of an often overlooked historic site in the Washington State Park system. Jackson House State Park Heritage Site features a small log cabin where settlers plotted in 1852 to make the lands north of the Columbia River into a separate territory from Oregon.

The Seattle area has given birth to aviation icons such as the Boeing 747 jumbo jet and carbon fiber 787 Dreamliner. Could a low-emissions electric jet someday join that hall of fame?

On Thursday, Kirkland, Washington-based startup Zunum Aero unveiled the specs for a hybrid electric jet.

Some insurance companies are choosing not to renew policies in wildfire-prone areas of the inland Northwest. That’s sending home owners scrambling to find new coverage for their properties.

Some very special search dogs have been getting a workout in the Northwest. They’re trained to sniff out the remains of people buried as long as 9,000 years ago. This past week, their assignment was to find burials from the early Oregon Trail days.

Last week’s earthquake in Mexico provided another reminder about the risks of poorly reinforced buildings. According to government studies, there are literally thousands of older brick and concrete buildings in Oregon and Washington that could collapse in a strong earthquake.

Competition for your garbage is increasingly fierce. It's become an important, if mostly hidden, industry in the Columbia River Gorge.

In 2016, the state of Washington made it legal for people to pick up dead deer and elk on the road and take them home. Roadkill salvage has turned out to be a popular thing to do—and it's coming soon to Oregon.

In a sign that the wildfire threat is receding, hundreds of Washington National Guard soldiers are being demobilized and sent home over the next 48 hours. They were activated to help fight wildfires earlier this month.

The Oregon and Washington Secretaries of State announced Friday that they have referred dozens of cases of double-voting or dead people voting in the last presidential election for possible criminal prosecution.

Since Cold War days, U.S. airmen have hunched over radar screens and computer terminals at McChord Field outside Tacoma. They monitor for intruders and anything else amiss in the Western skies.

Some of those airmen pivoted to a very different mission early last week, remotely coordinating aerial rescues in Texas.

Intelligence experts say North Korea is several years or more away from having the capability to threaten the U.S. West Coast with a nuclear missile. But recent sabre rattling was enough to make Washington state senators hold a hearing Wednesday about preparedness.

Big names in Northwest business are coming together to deepen the financing pool for the next great tech startups. Microsoft and Madrona Venture Group want to integrate the venture capital communities of Seattle and Vancouver, BC.

One of Boeing Defense subsidiary Insitu's 45-pound high-tech unmanned aircraft joined the fight against the Eagle Creek fire this weekend.

The Eagle Creek fire has littered a section of Interstate 84 in the Columbia River Gorge with fallen trees and rocks and there are scores more hazard trees that should be cut. 

Oregon's Department of Transportation says will the freeway will stay closed at least through the weekend—possibly longer.

Washington National Guard soldiers and airmen are being called up to help with the rash of Northwest wildfires. Gov. Jay Inslee declared a state of emergency on Saturday because of wildfires, which cleared the way for the activation of the Guard. 

St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, the flagship hospital of CHI Franciscan Health, is coming under fire for allegedly shirking its legal duty to provide charity care to the uninsured poor. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a consumer protection lawsuit Tuesday.

Washington state's top lawyer Bob Ferguson said his office is coordinating a joint lawsuit with other Democratic attorneys general in order to protect young immigrants from deportation. The Trump administration plans to phase out the so-called DACA program.

The Evergreen State College in Olympia begins this school year with a drop in enrollment and an imminent hiring freeze. The conservative blogosphere is crowing that it's fallout from recent campus unrest, but the university administration disagrees.

In the wake of disasters like Hurricane Harvey, you often hear calls to donate blood. In this instance, it was people who gave blood before the storm who helped the disaster victims.

If you give blood at this point, your donation is likely to stay home -- where it is welcome and needed.

A project to build a new runway at Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport will stay on track if the Washington State University Board of Regents approves a deal Wednesday.

When you call 911 from a mobile phone, software at the carrier and dispatch center triangulates your location. But in places where cell towers are widely spaced, like rural Pacific County, Washington, it doesn't work so well.

Ever been stuck in traffic and wished you could just levitate and fly over the crawling cars? Flying cars of various sorts entered the popular imagination more than five decades ago. Think “The Jetsons.” 

And now, a division of aerospace giant Airbus is getting ready to test a pilotless flying air taxi.

The solar eclipse is in the books, but the scientific analysis goes on. Teams of high school and college students scrambled Monday afternoon to locate and recover cameras and experimental payloads they launched to the edge of space during the eclipse.

The Washington State Department of Transportation will activate its emergency operations center on Monday morning in case solar eclipse traffic turns horrible. In Oregon, state and county emergency coordination centers were activated on Thursday.

Two Air National Guard reconnaissance planes were called in Wednesday by the National Interagency Fire Center to help detect and map wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. The twin engine, turboprop RC-26 aircraft will be temporarily based at Spokane's Fairchild Air Force Base and at Eugene's airport. In the near future, their assignment may be carried out by unmanned aircraft. 

A World War II veteran from the Inland Northwest traveled to a village in rural Japan Tuesday to personally return a "good luck flag" he picked up from the body of a fallen Japanese soldier on the Pacific island of Saipan in the summer of 1944.

"Taking the flag kind of bothered me because it is so special,” said Marvin Strombo, 93.

With hordes of eclipse chasers expected to pull out their phones to share the memorable experience next week, wireless carriers are deploying temporary mobile cell towers in Oregon and Idaho to boost capacity in the path of the solar eclipse.

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