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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Ever had a summer beach vacation chilled by dense fog? Then you might be interested in new research at the University of Washington. A scientist there is looking at how fogginess along the coast has changed over time. 


Rezone plans for a commercial nuclear plant near the Oregon-Idaho border are on hold. Payette County, Idaho Commissioners took the action after the plant’s developer was accused of running a stock scam.

Tom Banse / N3

Idaho’s Tamarack Resort is once again alive with skiers and snowboarders. But the happy scene didn’t come easy.

Tamarack is one of the most glaring casualties in the region from the bursting of the real estate bubble. Homeowners at the bankrupt resort are bootstrapping the once heralded ski area back into business.

US Census

There were celebrations in Olympia when news broke Tuesday that Washington state will get an additional member of Congress as a result of the 2010 Census. 

Courtesy Washington Secretary of State's Office

On Tuesday, the U.S. Census releases the first numbers from the 2010 population count. The first round of data will be used to reallocate Congressional seats among the states.

Top line numbers will be released tomorrow for the nation as a whole and for individual states. That’s all the info you need to redistribute proportionally the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The debating and waiting can now take a back seat.  Here comes the real world test whether Northwest drivers will embrace electric vehicles.  Carmaker Nissan has made the first customer delivery in the region of its fully-electric Nissan Leaf model.

Satsop nuclear plant
Tom Banse / N3

Most drivers passing by the twin cooling towers looming over the forest near Elma, Washington probably don’t think to themselves, when can I move in?  But that was exactly the thought audio engineer Ron Sauro had.

Tom Banse / N3

Forget Wall Street. One way some well-off Northwesterners avoided steep losses in the stock market in recent years was by making unusual alternative investments: in small farms and food businesses. These “angel investors” are organizing loose networks to match their money with cash-hungry local producers. Think of it as slow-food meets slow money.


There are certain songs and films that are so ubiquitous they just scream the holidays are here. Some feature a legendary Washington native, Bing Crosby. The Christmases he used to know were in Spokane. This weekend the city hosts the Bing Crosby Film Festival, featuring “White Christmas” and “Road to Morocco.” But an equally strong draw is the promise of long-lost footage showing other dimensions of the Hollywood star.

Tom Banse / N3

One of the catch phrases of the local food movement is “farm-to-table” -- eating food grown nearby. Now small forest owners want to join the local food party. And no, they’re not talking about feeding you sawdust. Instead, local forest products include edible mushrooms, berries, and a salad green called miner’s lettuce. 

Ted Warren / AP Photo

Washington’s sales tax on candy, soda and bottled water goes away today. Some candy and chocolate stores are bracing for a surge in business from corporate gift purchases that have been delayed until now to avoid the tax.

Governor Chris Gregoire wants an agreement from Republican and Democratic lawmakers on a package of immediate cuts to the state's budget by the end of this week.

Lakewood Police Officer Scott Novasky, left, and others.
Ted S. Warren / AP

Hundreds of people attended today's dedication of a memorial to four Lakewood, police officers who were shot to death.

An Arkansas parolee, Maurice Clemmons, gunned down the officers at a local coffee shop one year ago today.  Lakewood Police Chief Bret Farrar told the crowd that community support has sustained his department over this past difficult year.

Tom Banse / N3

Yet, some rental companies and fleet owners say they’re being persistently and repeatedly hit by gas thieves. Some of the victims believe a syndicate must be at work, but police are not so sure.

Wildlife researchers are asking holiday travelers to keep an eye out for something more than grandmother’s house. The request is specifically for people driving over the hills and through the woods on Interstate 90 over Snoqualmie Pass, the Northwest’s busiest mountain pass.

Courtesy of Mt. Baker Ski Area.

For the region’s ski areas, this week’s snowfall may be too much of a good thing. More ski lifts are starting up soon, but lowland snow (in Portland, the Seattle area, etc.) could keep urban skiers at home. 

Courtesy of Principle Power, Inc.

Ideas for harnessing the power of the Pacific Ocean to create clean energy are proliferating.  The rush of creativity is creating a flood of visits by electric engineers to coastal communities.

Tom Banse / N3

Plans for a coal export terminal on the Columbia River at Longview are coming under fire from environmental groups. Many of them showed up at a Cowlitz County commission hearing  on Tuesday.

Beth Redfield photo.

The first new car ferry in Washington State in more than a decade enters scheduled service in Port Townsend this morning.  The Chetzemoka (pronounced CHET-za-MOCH-ah) was christened Sunday.


A task force convened by the federal government is recommending that wildlife agents get more aggressive about trapping and killing sea lions in the Columbia River.

The latest count of election ballots show both propositions to get Washington state out of the liquor business have failed. But the issue is not going away. A new privatization proposal has surfaced in Olympia on the heels of those defeats.

A state senator from Mason County says he wants to take another run at ending Washington state's monopoly on liquor distribution and sales. Democrat Tim Sheldon claims the election defeat of both liquor initiatives was not a vote for the status quo.