Maine gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler on Monday launched an attack on the environmental records of his opponents, who quickly rebutted the independent candidate’s statements in a flare up on the campaign trail.

Cutler, who’s running against Republican Gov. Paul LePage and Democratic Rep. Mike Michaud, said LePage has “demonstrated outright disregard” for environmental protection, and described Michaud’s record as “at best, uneven.”

Cutler said he’s better equipped to handle environmental affairs than his opponents in part because of his background as associate director for natural resources, energy and science in President Jimmy Carter’s Office of Management and Budget. He said as governor, he would rebuild the state Department of Environmental Protection and partner with other state and provincial governments on clean fuel standards.

A LePage spokesman dismissed Cutler’s accusations, and touted the governor’s efforts to target polluters. He pointed out that energy giant Chevron paid the state a $900,000 settlement in 2011 on LePage’s watch for pollution in the Penobscot River. It was the state’s largest environmental settlement in two decades.

“Unlike both Cutler and Michaud, the governor doesn’t just talk about the environment, he takes action,” said spokesman Brent Littlefield.

Michaud’s camp noted that Cutler’s environmental plans have failed to win support from key environmental groups, including Sierra Club’s Maine chapter, Environment Maine and Maine Conservation Voters, which have endorsed Michaud. Michaud spokeswoman Lizzy Reinholt said Cutler is “lashing out” about the lack of support.

“Unfortunately, attacks like these only help Gov. LePage, whose failed environmental policies have threatened Maine and will only get worse if he is reelected,” she said.

Cutler made his statements while rolling out his environmental platform at the University of Southern Maine’s campus in Portland. Ned Muskie, son of former U.S. Secretary of State Ed Muskie, spoke in support of Cutler at the event.

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