The height of the tourist season is an odd time to get into a big fight over relaxing Maine’s clean air standards, but the LePage administration has picked this time to exempt Maine industry from federal air-pollution standards.

Maine has benefitted from improved air quality that comes from the Clean Air Act and should not move backward now.

Millions of people come here to experience our lakes, mountains and seashore, and they might be less likely to come back if they think that next time the air might not be as good to breathe.

Gov. Paul LePage has said that relaxing the standards would have no impact on the amount of air pollution in the state and would be good for Maine’s economy.

He’s partly right on both counts.

Allowing companies to switch from oil to gas actually could reduce the emissions generated in the state, and removing the requirement that polluters buy emissions credits for nitrous oxides and volatile organic compounds would save money and could encourage development.

That is the argument made by the pulp and paper industry, and it is supported by a former industry lobbyist, Patricia Aho, who since 2011 has been the commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.

The staff of the federal Environmental Protection Agency has given the idea its preliminary support, but that analysis may be shortsighted.

Maine’s air quality problems always have been the result of downwind polluters in the Great Lakes region, not local companies. For the last decade, the state has been part of a 13-state pact to reduce emissions, and Maine’s air quality has improved dramatically as a result.

Before getting a break for a few Maine businesses, the state should get assurances that other states don’t back out of the compact and resume polluting our air.

Saving money for Maine companies might be good for our economy, but lowering air quality and interfering with the health of Maine residents would not.

We already have some of the nation’s highest rates of asthma, a chronic lung disease that is aggravated by air pollution.

Since joining the compact, Maine has seen great strides in reducing ozone and particulate pollution, and we would be the biggest loser if downwind states resumed previous levels of pollution.

That would be bad, not only for the health of Maine residents, but it also would interfere with the state’s top industry — tourism.

People who come here for our pristine natural environment are less likely to make Maine their vacation destination if the number of bad air quality days increases, whether the pollution was created here or blown here by the wind.

LePage is right: We don’t have to choose between a healthy environment and a strong economy. Maine’s environmental and economic interests are well aligned.

Maine has little to gain from getting out of the Clean Air Act requirements and too much to lose.