Polluter Pays Principle Law and Legal Definition

In the environmental law, the polluter pays principle refers to the principle that if pollution occurs, the person or organization that causes pollution should pay for the consequences of the pollution and for avoiding it in future. Polluter pays is also known as extended polluter responsibility (EPR). The objective of this principle is to make the polluter responsible for the external costs arising from pollution caused. The polluter pays principle performs dual functions:

1. Prevention of pollution

2. Remediation, if pollution were to occur

In the U.S., the polluter pays principle has not been fully implemented nor is recognized as a distinct principle or a policy. However, the guidelines in the polluter pays principle are followed as a practice. For example, certain provisions in the U.S. like Clean Air Act, 1970 requires polluters to satisfy environmental standards at their own expense.

Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) adequately recognize the polluter pays principle in the U.S. The polluter pays principle is the main objective of the CERCLA.