Far from being a mere nuisance, air pollution can cause serious health problems: EPA estimates that its regulations prevent 230,000 early deaths a year. At the beginning of 2011, the agency began regulating greenhouse gasses. This was much to the chagrin of several states that are now seeking an injunction on the regulations, arguing that EPA does not have the constitutional authority to expand its own jurisdiction.
This highlights one of the challenges in regulating air quality: Balancing health safety needs with society’s need for goods and services and the economy’s need for productive industry. Critics of the current regulatory regime say its health benefits aren’t always proven and often hamper industry’s efficiency. Environmentalists, in turn, argue that industry looks past health and safety to focus only at its bottom line.