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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Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden said he remains confident that a proposed takeover of rival Virgin America will happen. But he acknowledged to Wall Street analysts Thursday that he had been hoping the $2.6 billion deal would have closed “a couple of weeks ago.”

Washington state employers added 20,000 jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis last month according to the latest numbers out Wednesday from the state’s Employment Security Department.

Spokane-based Avista Utilities and Seattle City Light --perhaps soon to be joined by Oregon's two biggest electric utilities: Portland General Electric & Pacific Power -- are diving into a new line of business: charging up electric cars.

They have plans to buy and maintain significant numbers of electric car charging stations. These will be installed at homes, private workplaces and public locations.

Washington state set a new one-day record for voter registrations Sunday, topping 23,000 in a single day.

So what was behind the big spike in new voter sign-ups?

A startup company from North Idaho captivated donors and YouTube viewers worldwide a few years ago with its idea for turning roads and parking lots into solar farms. Now that far-out idea is available for public inspection for the first time.

A group of natural gas utilities in Washington Friday filed the third legal challenge this week to new state limits on global warming pollution. The private utility companies Cascade Natural Gas, NW Natural, Avista and Puget Sound Energy filed the latest challenge in Thurston County Superior Court.


The Washington State Department of Ecology says the fastest erosion on the West Coast is happening at aptly named Washaway Beach -- located between the southwest Washington towns of Grayland and Tokeland. Most places threatened by erosion try to fight back. But the erosion at Washaway Beach is so rapid, the question now is to fight -- or retreat.

A food industry startup from Oregon is ready to sell you something completely different for your mid-morning snack. How about some roasted crickets in cayenne spice or original flavor?

Exporters are bracing for ocean freight price increases due to the collapse of Hanjin Shipping, one of the trans-Pacific lines serving the Northwest. Meanwhile, sailors and cargo are marooned on container ships in Northwest waters.

Some Northwest cities, counties and private developers are going beyond the minimums in the state building codes to reduce wildfire risk. They're banning shingle roofs and requiring fire-resistant siding. They're also making homeowners mind their landscaping.

Researchers from the University of Washington and NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center found the opposite of what they expected when they used a new scientific method to sample the waters of Puget Sound.

Washington state policymakers wrestled for much of the day Monday whether and how to regulate self-driving cars. Until now, major automakers and technology companies have successfully convinced Northwest states to hold off so there aren't 50 states with differing standards.

A South Puget Sound city has joined the fray over athletes protesting during the national anthem. The mayor of DuPont, Washington, scrubbed a planned Seahawks pep rally Saturday ahead of the Seattle team's home opener.

What kind of weather might the Northwest be in for this fall and winter? Well, one meaningful clue came when federal forecasters at the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center Thursday dropped their "La Niña Watch.”

Neither Oregon nor Washington are presidential election battleground states, so the region's TV viewers have been spared the attendant barrage of campaign commercials. But now the Libertarian presidential ticket is going on the air.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Dozens gathered outside of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife office in Olympia Thursday evening to protest the killing of a pack of wolves in northeastern Washington. The group rallied in opposition of the agency's decision to eradicate the Profanity Peak pack in order to protect cattle.


Fresh off the Olympic Games, Brazil now hosts the Paralympic Games. Athletes from the Northwest are packing up this week to fly south to compete in sports such as wheelchair rugby, sitting volleyball -- and goalball.

Olympic gold medal-winning swimmer Nathan Adrian received a rapturous welcome home from his hometown of Bremerton, Washington, Monday.

The three-time Olympian got the full rock star treatment from his hometown. A police cruiser escorted Adrian from his boyhood home to his high school where screaming fans lined up by the hundreds for an autograph and a picture. Bremerton’s mayor gave him a key to the city.


Donald Trump's campaign has confirmed the Republican presidential nominee is coming to Western Washington for a fundraiser and a rally on Tuesday. There were rumors the campaign swing to the Northwest might not happen after Trump cancelled a similar stop next week in Portland.

Donald Trump's campaign has confirmed the Republican presidential nominee is coming to Western Washington for a fundraiser and a rally next Tuesday. There were rumors the campaign swing to the Northwest might not happen after Trump cancelled a similar stop next week in Portland.

There will be free admission to all national parks from Thursday through Sunday to celebrate the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. President Woodrow Wilson signed the law creating the National Park Service on August 25, 1916.

Oregon's Ashton Eaton successfully defended his Olympic decathlon title Thursday night at the Summer Games in Rio. Eaton stayed on top of the leader board for nearly all of the two-day, ten event test of speed, strength and stamina.

Washington state's above-average unemployment rate hasn't budged since last December. For July, the state’s Department of Employment Security Wednesday again pegged it at 5.8 percent.

There were medals a-plenty for Northwest athletes competing at the Summer Olympics in Brazil this weekend. One runner from Portland missed out on the podium in a dramatic race, but got kudos afterwards for sportsmanship.

A bipartisan coalition of Western U.S. lawmakers has renewed a call to change how the federal government pays to put out big forest fires. Currently, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management divert money from fire prevention and other programs to pay firefighting costs during bad fire years.

A popular getaway destination for Northwest outdoor enthusiasts should be under new ownership by this winter. British Columbia's Whistler Blackcomb ski resort has agreed to a friendly takeover by Colorado-based Vail Resorts.

During the decade before the U.S. Civil War, a different conflict made a big impact on the future of the Oregon Territory. It's known as the Rogue River Indian War. But unlike the Civil War battlefields in the eastern U.S. or American South that receive hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, you’ll be hard pressed to tour -- or even find -- those battlefields.

Flashy Brazilian music and dance is likely to light up your TV screen Friday night when the Olympic cauldron is lit to officially launch the Summer Games. But a lot of the Olympic athletes from the Northwest are skipping the Opening Ceremony in Rio.

National parks will offer free admission on the final weekend of August in honor of the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. Before then, the park service centennial is being celebrated with music.

California, Oregon and Washington state have lofty goals for increasing the number of non-polluting vehicles on the road. To achieve those goals, you and your neighbors will need to buy electric cars at a higher rate that we're seeing now.

Hundreds of electric car enthusiasts and policymakers gathered this week in Portland to weigh how to accelerate consumer demand.