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.

Ways to Connect

Snohomish PUD

Consumers who thought they were doing the right thing by buying rooftop solar systems made by a Pacific Northwest company called Silicon Energy are in a pickle. Many of those solar panels have now been labeled defective and a fire risk.

Sarah C / Flickr - tinyurl.com/z2c3f7e

A crowd of women in pink Planned Parenthood T-shirts surrounded Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Tuesday morning as he signed a bill to improve access to birth control.

Tom Banse / NW News Network

The majority of Washingtonians with a regular driver's license will have an interesting choice to make the next time they renew—a choice possibly coming to Oregon too. Continue with the same old license they have grown accustomed to or apply for a so-called "enhanced driver license."

Masahiko OHKUBO / Flickr - tinyurl.com/l6vwtfp

Vulnerability assessments by utilities and emergency planners along the U.S. West Coast suggest it could be weeks or a month or more before water service gets restored after a major earthquake - not to mention electricity, sewage treatment and fuel supply too. The social and economic disruption does not have to be that bad though, given adequate preparedness and investments in critical infrastructure as demonstrated in Japan.

U.S. Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy issued an emergency alert Tuesday morning at the Hanford site north of Richland, Washington, after a tunnel at a radioactive cleanup site caved in. Workers at a former chemical processing plant were evacuated and thousands more across Hanford were directed to take shelter indoors.

State and federal officials said all workers were accounted for, there were no injuries and no indication of “release” of radioactivity into the environment. By early afternoon, the employees taking shelter were given permission to go home except those needed for emergency response.

Lisa Helps / Facebook

A thorn in cross-border relations between the northwestern U.S. and Canada is going away. And therefore so too is one of the best protest mascots in recent history.

For more than a decade, a character named Mr. Floatie—a piece of poo wearing a sailor's cap—nagged greater Victoria's politicians and citizens in falsetto voice to stop dumping the capital region's raw sewage in shared border waters.

FEMA

Public schools in Washington state would be encouraged—but not required—to hold at least one earthquake drill per year under a measure scheduled for Gov. Jay Inslee's signature Thursday.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The Chelan County Public Utility District Board of Commissioners is playing ball with Alcoa Corporation in hopes of bringing back hundreds of well-paid manufacturing jobs. Commissioners voted 4-0 to postpone a big charge the aluminum maker faced for idling its smelter near Wenatchee at the beginning of last year.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

Public utility commissioners in Chelan County, Washington, take a high stakes vote Monday that could influence whether the aluminum industry and its well-paid, blue collar jobs make a comeback in the Pacific Northwest.

Tom Banse / Northwest News Network

The state of Washington has taken delivery of its first longer-range electric cars as part of a plan to double its electric vehicle fleet. Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee showed off one of them at a ceremony in Olympia Thursday.

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