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Tom Banse

Regional Correspondent


Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Pacific Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places as our roving regional correspondent. 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 who cooperate as part of our Northwest News Network consortium.

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.

Location: Olympia

Languages: English, conversational German


  • caption: Boeing continues to store large numbers of undelivered 737 MAX jets at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake.
    KUOW Newsroom

    Stockpile of Boeing 737 MAX jets assures Moses Lake years of work

    When the MAX was grounded in 2019 after two deadly accidents, Boeing kept on manufacturing the airplane. Today, 100 or more undelivered MAX’s are still parked at an airfield in Moses Lake, Washington, awaiting modifications. The work is lasting so long that some technicians and machinists who were sent there from Boeing’s Puget Sound facilities are now buying homes and putting down roots.

  • caption: The Universal Hydrogen flight test crew posed for pictures after a successful first flight of the company's hydrogen-electric Dash 8 airliner on March 2, 2023.
    KUOW Newsroom

    Hydrogen-powered airliner makes first flight at Moses Lake

    The largest aircraft yet to fly on hydrogen-electric power made a successful first flight Thursday at Moses Lake, Washington. The maiden flight of a converted turboprop airliner offered a preview of one possible pathway for how to make your future flights more eco-friendly. Hydrogen fuel is one of several options the aviation industry is testing to reduce its carbon footprint, but the technology still attracts notable skepticism.

  • caption: Bull kelp routinely washes up on West Coast beaches after storms, but there are more reasons to worry about the health of the kelp forests just offshore.
    KUOW Newsroom

    Struggling Northwest kelp forests sending out an SOS. Help is coming

    There's a rallying cry at various bays and beaches up and down the West Coast; it's "Help the kelp!" The towering brown seaweed with the floating bulb on top is in steep decline. That's alarming because underwater kelp forests provide shelter and food for a wide variety of sea life. The crew answering the call runs the gamut from seaweed farmers to hammer-wielding scuba divers and might some day include sea otters and octopuses.

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    KUOW Newsroom

    Democratic lawmakers steer pay-per-mile into slow lane to replace gas tax, eventually

    Would you prefer to pay a couple of cents for every mile you drive in exchange for not having to pay gas tax or those steep electric car registration fees? A mileage-based tax is the top choice of Pacific Northwest policymakers to make up for the long-term decline in gas tax revenue. But imposition of any new tax tends to be politically fraught, and this one is no exception.

  • caption: Portland Fire & Rescue would be the second department nationally to take delivery of an electric fire engine built by Pierce Manufacturing. This is the first one in service with the Madison Fire Department in Wisconsin.
    KUOW Newsroom

    Fire trucks are going electric, too. Portland and Redmond, WA, getting there first

    You probably no longer blink an eye when an electric car passes by on the road. More novel battery-powered vehicles are soon joining the parade to help operators achieve their sustainability goals. Electric ferries are coming to Puget Sound and hybrid electric airplanes are being tested in Washington. Now, several Pacific Northwest fire departments have ordered their first electric fire trucks.

  • caption: A Columbia Plateau cactus, aka basalt cactus, pictured growing near Mitchell in eastern Oregon in 2021. This native Northwest cactus species could soon be the official cactus of Washington state.
    KUOW Newsroom

    Should WA lawmakers designate an official state cactus?

    The Washington Legislature has a lot of prickly problems on its plate. But there's a new one that may be the prickliest of all: Should lawmakers designate an official state cactus? A school class proposed a native cactus for the honor and they now have a sponsor in the Legislature.