Tom Banse | KNKX

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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Aptly nicknamed Washaway Beach, in Pacific County, Washington, has long suffered from the most extreme coastal erosion along the whole U.S. West Coast. Now a relatively low cost defense is raising hopes among property owners and nearby cranberry growers.

Seven different companies have notified Washington's Department of Licensing that they plan to test self-driving vehicles on roads in the state. Oregon transportation officials have gotten notifications from two other companies.

A rare cougar attack east of Seattle left one bicyclist dead and another seriously injured over the weekend.

In farm fields from the Willamette Valley to the Kittitas Valley and east to Idaho, energy developers want to plant a new crop: commercial solar arrays. But a surge in utility-scale solar farm applications is generating pushback.

Washington drivers who are thinking about buying an electric car would be wise to get down to a dealership in the next two weeks. That's because a valuable tax break disappears at month's end.

Portland may become the first city in the Pacific Northwest to require all owners of old brick buildings to make earthquake safety upgrades. But being on the leading edge is not a comfortable place.

It’s no secret that the aviation industry is facing a shortage of airline pilots. But that isn’t the only aviation career grappling with a labor shortage. Aircraft mechanics and flight simulator technicians are also in high demand.

Before there was an Oregon, Idaho and Washington state, there was the Oregon Country. Early settlers and pioneers voted to form a provisional territorial government 175 years ago this week.  The vote was close and featured arguments that may sound surprisingly familiar today.

The pivotal decision will be celebrated Saturday as Founders Day at the spot where it happened in Marion County.

Two  projects launched in April aim to help bees in the Pacific Northwest, at a time when pesticides, parasites and loss of habitat make survival harder for both wild bumble bees and domesticated honeybees. 

You could almost start a zoo with all of the exotic creatures seized by animal control officers in Olympia about three weeks ago. Now the owners of an Oregon-based private wildlife center are petitioning to get their animals back. 

One of the diciest points in an airline merger is consolidating computer systems. That moment arrives Tuesday night for Alaska Airlines and its former West Coast rival Virgin America.

Nearly 20 percent of people in Washington and 15 percent in Oregon speak a language other than English at home. Emergency managers from around the West are grappling with how to reach people in foreign languages in the midst of a disaster. A new Washington state law seeks to raise the bar.

Students from Oregon State University, Granite Falls High School in Washington and the University of British Columbia are among 99 teams pushing the boundaries of automotive fuel efficiency. The Northwest students are driving in an international competition in California through this weekend.

Bellingham, Washington, dedicates a new monument this Saturday that speaks to the Pacific Northwest's long and conflicted history with immigration. The "Arch of Healing and Reconciliation" memorializes the past expulsions of immigrant Sikhs, Japanese and Chinese.

More than 30 popular hiking trails on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge remain closed because of hazards left in the wake of last year's Eagle Creek wildfire. That has park rangers wrangling crowds on the unburned Washington side of the Gorge.

In congressional testimony Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said he has heard the strong opposition from the West Coast to the Trump administration's plan for offshore oil and gas drilling. He expressed doubt drilling would ever happen along the Pacific Northwest coast.

A Northwest author is hoping the movie rights to his recent nonfiction bestseller shift away from The Weinstein Company. The Hollywood studio's upcoming bankruptcy court auction may offer an opening.

When the price of one bitcoin soared to almost $20,000 late last year, an influx of entrepreneurs and developers came to the Pacific Northwest in search of cheap hydropower to do bitcoin "mining."

But now cities, counties and utilities at the epicenter in central Washington are hitting the pause button. The cryptocurrency businesses bring tech jobs—but they are also electricity hogs.

Emergency managers from Washington coastal counties and tribes practiced tsunami alert communication and coordination with state and federal partners Thursday. They're trying to smooth out glitches revealed after an undersea earthquake in Alaska in January.

Drone testing by a defense contractor has stopped after one of the company's prototypes crashed on Saturday and set off a small wildfire near the Pendleton, Oregon, airport.

A public utility in north central Washington state wants to root out a new kind of outlaw: the rogue bitcoin miner.

One of the key elements of your emergency kit should be enough drinking water to be self-sufficient for days or weeks after a big earthquake. That task become much trickier when public water systems are wrecked and you are responsible for hordes of people in a community shelter.

The state of Washington is allocating $200,000 to inventory how many old buildings statewide could collapse in an earthquake. That money is included in a budget Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed this week.

The worst case scenario for flooding from a tsunami along the Pacific Northwest coast just got even worse. Washington's Department of Natural Resources with help from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration re-mapped the maximum tsunami threat from Grays Harbor down to the Columbia River mouth.

Now that electric cars are a common sight on the nation's highways, and prototypes exist for electric trucks and airplanes, could electric ferries be next?

The 2018 state transportation budget signed by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday includes money to look at converting some of the state ferry fleet.

When The Big One happens, emergency planners and geologists expect the vast majority of us will survive. But a magnitude 9 rupture on the Cascadia earthquake fault will likely cut electricity, running water and sewer for weeks—or even months afterwards.

An earthquake early warning system under development for the West Coast gets a major boost in the new federal budget that President Donald Trump signed into law Friday.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter came within 50 feet of colliding with a drone over Port Angeles, Washington, last weekend. The Coast Guard said an air crew was doing low altitude training exercises near Fairchild International Airport when it had to take evasive action.

Google subsidiary Waze is launching a carpool app statewide in Washington Tuesday. The company is the latest to see opportunity in the carpool organizing business in the Pacific Northwest.

The province of British Columbia will support and has agreed to contribute money for further study of bullet train service from Portland to Seattle to Vancouver.

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