Tom Banse | KUOW News and Information

Tom Banse

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.

Earlier this year, a gray whale calf died after getting tangled in crab pot lines near Seaview, Washington. Now commercial and tribal crab fishermen from the Washington coast have agreed to form a working group to discuss how to reduce the risk of a repeat.

More than 30 times this year, the federal government has received reports of whales tangled in fishing gear along the West Coast. Sometimes the whales manage to wriggle free. Other times they don't, and you see heart-rending pictures on the news or a rescue mission.

Democratic politicians from the Pacific Northwest are up in arms over a proposal to dramatically increase entrance fees at popular national parks next year.

This story has been updated.

Since recreational marijuana became legal in Washington state and Oregon, the booming industry has been having having trouble accessing the banking system. And now a hemp fashion retailer in Blaine, Washington, is having the same problem.

When commercial fishermen spool out long lines in pursuit of sablefish— better known to consumers as black cod—seabirds looking for an easy meal dive to steal the bait off the series of hooks.

Some unlucky birds get hooked and drown as the line sinks to the deep. 
And when the drowned bird is an endangered species such as the short-tailed albatross, it triggers scrutiny.

From Ashland to Whistler, Northwest cities large and small are grappling with whether and how to regulate short term rentals of accommodations. Concern about rowdy behavior or preserving housing stock for workers motivates regulation.

More people than ever—1.2 million in Washington state and more than 570,000 in Oregon—are registered to participate in the annual Great ShakeOut earthquake and tsunami drill Thursday morning.


Not coincidentally, a Washington state agency is using this week to highlight how the Evergreen State needs to play catch up with neighboring states on earthquake preparedness.

Self-driving cars would one day take over Interstate 5 to the exclusion of human drivers under a proposal aired out before Washington state transportation advisors Tuesday.

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.

Scientists in Oregon and Washington are noticing a disruptive ocean phenomenon is becoming more frequent and extreme. It involves a suffocating ribbon of low oxygen seawater over our continental shelf.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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