Chevron, America's third largest company, may be asked to pay up to $27 billion in damages in a lawsuit arising from oil-drilling related pollution in an Ecuadorian portion of the Amazon rain forest. The damage is the result of 23 years of oil extraction by Texaco, which Chevron bought in 2001, and Petroecuador, the national oil company. A suit was first filed in 1993 in a federal court in New York and, for nine years, the oil company fought for the trial to be held in Ecuador. In a textbook example of "be careful what you wish for," Texaco won that battle but now the new owners find themselves facing big time judgment in a small court in Lago Agrio.

The case is full of claims and counterclaims and so 60 Minutes took the time to actually go to Ecuador and talk with some of the people involved and check out some of the pollution ponds that dot the area. They also sat down with Chevron's manager of global issues and policy, Silvia Garrigo, who presented their side of the story. It all makes for informative and, if you like to watch corporate mouthpieces squirm, entertaining watching. Unfortunately, even if the court does order the company to pay the full requested amount, Chevron is determined not to fork over any cash. In a news report-style video of their own that questions pretty much every aspect of the case, they say that, "...if the verdict goes against it, it will appeal in Ecuador and, if needed, will fight its enforcement." Hit the jump for the 60 Minutes video as well as the Chevron presentation.

[Source: CBS News 60 Minutes via Plug In America / YouTube]

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