I wouldn't call you selfish, simply ignorant of the history of the subject. The vast majority of cleanup was done by private citizens and companies before there were regulations. I understand that isn't the popular view, but it is the historical record. Most of the improvement in "clean air" happened prior to the creation of the regulations, and indeed after the regulations there was no improvement in the trend if cleaner air.
Technically the rate of improvement slowed down, but I think that can be attributed to it becoming more difficult as things get better rather than necessarily being an effect of the regulation.
It also makes sense to happen that way when you understand the government of the U.S. only does things when enough voters have already made the decision. The government is by definition a Johnny-come-lately, and the "clean air" aspect is no different.
Thus, fortunately you don't have to choose clean air over liberty, as they are not mutually exclusive and choosing liberty has been the single best force for clean air.