Jeff Crawford (left) and Mark Stebbins of the Department of Environmental Protection testify before the Board or Environmental Protection in this Sept. 15, 2016, file photo. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik

AUGUSTA, Maine — A state official says Maine’s environmental agency was wrong to resist a federal crackdown on pollution from oil tank emissions.

The yearslong conflict between the state and the Environmental Protection Agency stayed under the radar until March, when the EPA sued an oil company in South Portland on allegations of violating the Clean Air Act.

The Portland Press Herald obtained records that show the Maine Department of Environmental Protection defended a widely disputed method of testing storage tank emissions developed by the petroleum industry.

The state’s new head of air quality, Jeff Crawford, says the agency should have been more proactive in working with the EPA and informing the public.

South Portland officials say the city won’t be blindsided again and will take control of its own air quality.