Thanks to Matador contributor Mitch Anderson, whose work with AmazonWatch has him in the Ecuadorian Amazon regularly, I’ve been following the case against Chevron for about a year now.

Yesterday, AmazonWatch sent out a breaking news press release to report that the court case had finally been decided: an Ecuadorian judge ruled against Chevron, ordering the oil company to pay $8.6 billion US to clean up the environment it has damaged.

The judge also included an interesting amendment to the ruling: If Chevron doesn’t publicly apologize within 15 days to the indigenous communities its environmental damage has caused, it will be required to pay double that amount.

While the ruling is historic and significant, it’s entirely possible that no one affected by Chevron’s actions will actually ever see that money. The Wall Street Journal reported today that Chevron “doesn’t have to pay any judgment until after an initial appeal, which could take months.” Stockholders didn’t seem too bothered by the ruling; Chevron’s stock value actually went up.

To keep up with what unfolds in the following weeks and months, I recommend following Mitch’s regular blog, which is hosted by The San Francisco Chronicle, as well as checking the AmazonWatch site regularly.