Tom Banse

Regional Correspondent

Tom Banse, KPLU’s and N3’s Regional Correspondent, roves the Northwest to report on broad themes and telling details. His topics run the gamut from business to the environment and human interest. Home base is in Olympia, a legacy of a previously held state government beat from 1991-2003. Although he grew up in Seattle, Tom's radio career began by chance in Minnesota at Carleton College’s student radio station. Tom's memorable moment in public radio: "I am indebted to many people for tips and tutelage, but certainly some of the bluntest -- at times unprintable -- guidance came from NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg. I interned at NPR in 1989 and was privileged to keep Nina's chair warm at the U-S Supreme Court or at the high-octane Iran-Contra trial of Oliver North, wherever she wasn't at the time. Heady stuff for a tenderfoot reporter."

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Other News
9:35 am
Thu February 14, 2013

Sun Valley becomes hub for healing vets through sports

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 5:34 pm

KETCHUM, Idaho - A ceremony in Sochi, Russia a few days ago started the one year countdown to the 2014 Winter Games. Here in the Northwest, the Sun Valley, Idaho ski team has set a goal to get at least six of its skiers or snowboarders on Team USA in Sochi.

The Paralympic Games for physically disabled athletes follow right after the Olympics. That U.S. team will also likely have lots of Northwest ties. Sun Valley is developing a reputation for uncovering exceptional paraplegic and amputee athletes through programs geared toward injured veterans.

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Other News
9:30 am
Thu February 14, 2013

The journey from soldier, to double-amputee, to pro athlete

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Wed February 13, 2013 3:39 pm

KETCHUM, Idaho - A winter's worth of racing and training for the best disabled skiers and shooters culminates later this month at the Paralympic Nordic World Championships in Sweden. For the first time, the U.S. team headed to the competition is made up entirely of disabled veterans. It's a good example of how some wounded soldiers are finding a new mission and purpose.

Sun Valley, Idaho has become a hub for healing veterans through sports and one ex-soldier went from infantryman to badly wounded warrior to pro athlete.

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Food
1:54 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Local dogs earn their keep sniffing out truffles

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 7:36 am

TURNER, Ore. - When a dog finds its first truffle -- the fungus, not the chocolate candy -- the sound you hear will most likely be the voice of a very excited dog handler.

And you might be as excited as Mia MacCollin of Bend if your pet showed an aptitude to find buried treasure. And treasure it is. The native Oregon white truffle can fetch several hundred dollars per pound at retail.

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Business
8:41 am
Thu January 31, 2013

Northwest On Verge Of Becoming Pacific Crude Oil Gateway

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu January 31, 2013 7:19 pm

ABERDEEN, Wash. – The Northwest is on the verge of becoming a gateway for crude oil. Three different developers have plans to use docks on Grays Harbor, Washington to transfer crude oil from trains to ships. Other projects are getting off the ground in Tacoma, Vancouver, B.C. and on the lower Columbia River.

There was a huge turnout Wednesday night at an introductory public workshop in Aberdeen, Washington. The response indicates crude-by-rail may be the region’s next big environmental controversy.

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Other News
4:33 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Women soldiers reflect on new army career options

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu January 24, 2013 5:53 pm


JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - The Pentagon's decision to allow women in combat roles has some female soldiers rethinking their career trajectories.


Army Spc. Heidi Olson received a Purple Heart last year for shrapnel injuries she got during a foot patrol in Afghanistan. She feels she's earned the right to call herself a combat medic.


"Originally as a female, I wasn't allowed to be titled as a combat medic," Olson says. "It was a 'health care specialist.'"

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Environment
11:49 am
Wed January 23, 2013

Authorities seek tougher penalties for false labeling of fish

Tom Banse Northwest News Network


OLYMPIA, Wash. - When you order that special filet at a restaurant or store, you're often going on trust that the fish actually is what the menu or label says it is. In Washington, two state agencies are asking for tougher penalties to deter seafood fraud.


Investigators for Consumer Reports recently found more than one-fifth of the fish they submitted for DNA identification was mislabeled at the point of sale.


Washington Fish and Wildlife police deputy chief Mike Cenci says the penalties for false labeling need to be stronger.

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Environment
1:41 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Seattle firm seeks to commercialize carbon dioxide conversion to methanol

EPA

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 4:04 pm

A small engineering firm in Seattle says it has developed a system to capture carbon dioxide going up power plant smokestacks and convert it to methanol. The solvent is also known as wood alcohol and as an Indy race car fuel.

Brett Scott is chief counsel for Emission Resource Group. He says having a viable method to refine CO2 into methanol could make it worthwhile for fossil fuel burners to capture the greenhouse gas.

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Environment
12:36 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Feds to relocate rare deer threatened by failing dike

US Fish

Originally published on Thu January 17, 2013 3:58 pm

A federal agency plans a major effort to preemptively rescue about 65 deer upriver from Astoria. The animals live on a floodplain beside the lower Columbia River.

These aren't just any deer. They're an endangered species: the Columbian white-tailed deer. One of this animal's strongholds is a national wildlife refuge near Cathlamet, Washington. But now the Columbia River is on the verge of bursting through a failing dike at the edge of the refuge.

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Environment
12:30 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Debris dock confirmed from 2011 tsunami; salvage bids requested

Courtesy of National Park Service

A dock that washed ashore on a remote Washington beach last month is now confirmed as debris from the March 2011 tsunami in Japan. This news comes just as the federal government requests bids from salvage companies to get rid of the huge hulk. Correspondent Tom Banse reports.

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Transportation tax
11:22 am
Thu January 10, 2013

Washington, Oregon consider mileage-based road tax

Tom Banse Northwest News Network

Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 3:06 pm

PORTLAND - Washington and Oregon are getting serious about finding a replacement for the gas tax. Steadily improving fuel efficiency in cars is eroding the primary source of road funding in the Northwest. A new report to the 2013 Washington Legislature finds it "feasible" to have drivers pay by the mile instead. In Oregon, lawmakers have actually drafted legislation to do just that.

Suburban Portland SUV owner Mary Olson has possibly glimpsed the future of how we'll pay for roads, although it's tricky to spot.

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College Sports
3:56 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

Pac-12 review clears WSU football program of abuse allegations

Wikipedia

Originally published on Tue January 8, 2013 3:38 pm

An investigation by the Pac-12 athletic conference released Tuesday finds no evidence that Washington State University football coaches physically or mentally abused players. WSU's president requested the outside probe. He did so after an athlete who quit and the parent of another former player alleged the coaching staff was "out of control."

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Environment
10:58 am
Mon January 7, 2013

Tsunami debris dock decontaminated; removal poses next challenge

Wash. Dept. of Fish

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 9:01 am

State and federal biologists say they are confident they have minimized the invasive species threat posed by a derelict dock that washed ashore last month in Olympic National Park. The concrete and steel dock appears to have drifted across the Pacific Ocean after last year's tsunami in Japan. But the story is not over yet.

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Other News
2:22 am
Mon December 17, 2012

Five ways to recover faster from 'The Big One'

OLYMPIA, Wash. - For years, emergency managers have urged people to stockpile enough food, water and supplies to last 72 hours after a disaster. In the Northwest, basic assumptions like that are now under scrutiny, especially when it comes to the risk from a big earthquake. Two committees in Oregon and Washington have been working for more than a year to come up with wide-ranging recommendations to improve the region's disaster resilience. Correspondent Tom Banse has this exclusive first look at some of the ideas.

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Environment
11:45 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Mazama pocket gopher slated to join endangered species list

Mazama pocket gopher
Tom Banse

The Northwest may have another species listed as endangered. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Monday proposed listing the Mazama pocket gopher as threatened in the South Puget Sound region of western Washington.

This is the third time this fall the government has moved to protect a critter that depends on dwindling Northwest prairies or coastal grasslands. Correspondent Tom Banse reports from Olympia.

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NPR Story
9:06 am
Mon December 3, 2012

Costly Metal Thefts Prompt Push For Statewide Seller Blacklist

Michael Pereckas Flickr

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 3:39 pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Stricter recordkeeping requirements for scrap metal dealers and sellers have not stopped trafficking in stolen copper wire and metal parts. That's according to Northwest police agencies and crime victims. So in Olympia Friday, Washington state lawmakers promised to look at further steps including a possible blacklist of suspicious sellers.

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