The loop track at the Port of Vancouver where crude oil would be offloaded from trains and then transferred onto ocean-going vessels on the Columbia River.

The loop track at the Port of Vancouver where crude oil would be offloaded from trains and then transferred onto ocean-going vessels on the Columbia River.

Conrad Wilson/OPB

An administrative law judge has rebuked the Port of Vancouver for contacting Gov. Jay Inslee about a proposal to build the nation’s largest rail-to-marine oil transfer terminal at the port.

In a letter dated Wednesday, Cassandra Noble, administrative law judge for the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, said the port sent apparently “improper” communications to the governor and another top state decision-maker.

At issue is the port’s July 7 letter, signed by CEO Todd Coleman, that expressed frustration with “continued delays” in the oil terminal’s review. Coleman then urged Inslee to direct the evaluation council to produce a publicly available timetable for the entire review process and to stick to it. The port’s letter, which it highlighted in a July 8 press release, was copied to Bill Lynch, chairman of the evaluation council, and the port’s three elected commissioners.

“As Chair Lynch is a decision maker in (the evaluation council’s) recommendation process, and Governor Inslee is the ultimate decision maker in the project application, these would appear to be improper ex parte communications while there is an adjudication going on,” Noble wrote in her letter to multiple parties involved in the oil terminal’s review.

Read more at The Columbian.