Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Eric T. Larson

First Page



Significant concern about the harm to the environment caused by the disposal of hazardous wastes and detrimental materials abounds. In response, regulators around the globe have struggled to develop environmental liability regimes that effectively remediate contaminated sites. Regulators in the United States, the European Community, and Japan have addressed environmental contamination concerns by adopting the polluter pays principle as a core component of their domestic environmental liability regimes. The polluter pays principle demands that the polluter bear the burden of remediating the waste it generates. The impetus for adoption of the polluter pays principle in the United States, the European Community, and Japan is somewhat unclear. Certain sources and trends, however, have likely contributed to and informed the principle's adoption. These sources include the prevalence of international treaties, the increasing availability of information concerning the environment, domestic and foreign laws that influence the conduct of other countries, nongovernmental organizations that exert pressure on regulatory bodies, bilateral and multilateral development institutions that condition their lending practices on the friendly treatment of the environment, and the growing standardization of environmental policies worldwide. This Note addresses these sources, and explores the manner in which they have influenced and encouraged the United States, the European Community, and Japan to embrace the polluter pays principle as an effective tool to achieve environmental waste remediation.