January 25, 2016

It's estimated that the natural gas leak in Porter Ranch, California, has released the equivalent of 2.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide since it was reported in October.

That's more greenhouse gas than 44,000 cars emit in one year, the Los Angeles Times reports. The leak is from a failed well at the Southern California Gas Company's Aliso Canyon storage facility, and has caused thousands of Porter Ranch residents to move. In November, Stephen Conley, a scientist at UC Davis, flew over Porter Ranch for the first time, finding methane levels at 50 parts per million, an amount so high, he told the Times, he had to double-check his instruments. "This is probably 20 times bigger than anything else we've measured," he said.

So much methane is being released that it's expected to boost global warming, experts say, and it will remain in the atmosphere even after the leak is stopped. The longer the leak stays open, the more difficult it will be for the state to reach its goal of reducing emissions of methane and other pollutants by 40 percent or more by 2030. "It's really moving us in the wrong direction," said John Herner of California's Air Resources Board. A spokesperson for SoCal Gas told the Times the reservoir has gone from being 90 percent full before the leak to at most 37 percent full on Jan. 10. The company does not have an estimate of the amount of gas released and won't be able to get one until the leak is stopped; it's believed that a relief well being dug now to seal off the damaged one will be completed by late February. Catherine Garcia

12:21 p.m. ET

Democratic Sen. Chris Coons (Del.) revealed Monday on MSNBC's Morning Joe that he's bracing for a political showdown over President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch because he doesn't think Gorsuch will get the requisite 60 votes from the Senate to be confirmed. If Gorsuch does not get the necessary 60-vote margin because of Democrats' refusal to support him, Coons noted Republicans will "almost certainly" resort to eliminating the Supreme Court nominee filibuster — a rule introduced by Democrats.

While Coons said he understands Democrats' lingering frustrations over Republicans' refusal to grant a hearing to former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, he also indicated he is irked by his party's approach and by partisanship in general. "And I think this is tragic," Coons said. "And in talking to friends on both sides of the aisle, we've got a lot of senators concerned about where we're headed. There's Republicans still very mad at us over the 2013 change to the filibuster rule, we're mad at them about shutting down the government, they're mad at us about Gorsuch, and we are not headed in a good direction. I'm very concerned about where we're headed."

Watch the segment below. Coons' comments about the Gorsuch start at the 2:13 mark. Becca Stanek

11:18 a.m. ET

Paleontologists have discovered the world's largest dinosaur footprint in a region of Australia's Dampier Peninsula coastline dubbed "Australia's Jurassic Park." The print measures nearly 5 feet, 9 inches in length. Previously, the biggest dinosaur footprint ever discovered was one found last July in Bolivia that measured nearly 3 feet, 9 inches long.

The footprint found in Australia is believed to have been left by a type of sauropod dinosaur, "long-necked, large plant-eaters" that Gizmodo noted "have been found on every continent except Antarctica." "The giant footprints are no doubt spectacular," Steve Salisbury, the lead author of the study and a professor at the University of Queensland, told CNN. "There's nothing that comes close."

The record-setting footprint wasn't the only fascinating find made by Salisbury and his team: They also discovered the region was once home to a remarkably diverse dinosaur population. "The tracks provide a snapshot, a census if you will, of an extremely diverse dinosaur fauna," Salisbury told Gizmodo. "Twenty-one different types of dinosaurs all living together at the same time in the same area. We have never seen this level of diversity before, anywhere in the world. It's the Cretaceous equivalent of the Serengeti! And it's written in stone." Becca Stanek

11:06 a.m. ET

Jeffrey Lovitky is suing President Trump. It's a rather daunting task: Lovitky works at a one-man law firm that NPR describes as "a single room just large enough for a desk, a credenza, three bookcases, and two chairs." In fact, Lovitky wishes he wasn't suing Trump at all.

"It is intimidating. I am intimidated," Lovitky told NPR. "I mean, I would rather not be doing this."

But Lovitky has found something wrong with President Trump's financial disclosure form from last May. The form blends Trump's personal liabilities with his corporate liabilities, and as a result, it is impossible to distinguish the personal alone. Ultimately, "the report withholds from citizens something the law says they should have: an accounting of the president's personal liabilities," NPR writes. If Lovitky's case successfully survives the expected return-fire — a motion to dismiss the case for lack of standing — he could "end up setting a precedent that ordinary Americans can sue to seek enforcement of federal ethics laws."

"You go back to the basic premise of what is each individual's civic responsibility?" Lovitky explained. "What do you owe?

Lovitky's federal lawsuit is one of 108 that name Trump as a defendant since Trump's inauguration on Jan. 20. Listen to Lovitky's story below. Jeva Lange

10:40 a.m. ET
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Honolulu-born former President Barack Obama is returning to his tropical roots to work on his memoir, The Washington Post reports. On the heels of post-presidency vacations through Palm Springs, the Caribbean, and Hawaii, Obama is now staying on the South Pacific island of Tetiaroa, where he reportedly plans to write his book.

The French Polynesian atoll once belonged to Marlon Brando and is a favorite vacation spot of celebrities. Obama reportedly arrived at the Tetiaroa resort alone and will stay for at least a month. It is unclear if the rest of his family will be joining him; daughters Malia and Sasha are busy with an internship and high school, respectively.

Former first lady Michelle Obama is also working on a memoir. Her joint deal with her husband is reportedly worth at least $60 million. Jeva Lange

10:28 a.m. ET
Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

The Associated Press tallied up the potential costs of North Carolina's bathroom bill, and the total isn't pretty. Because of the legislation passed last year rolling back LGBTQ protections and requiring transgender individuals to use the restroom that corresponds to their biological sex, The Associated Press estimated North Carolina will "suffer more than $3.76 billion in lost business" by the end of 2028.

One of the biggest blows is the canceled construction of the PayPal facility, which The Associated Press reported would have "added an estimated $2.6 billion to the state's economy." Other costs include called-off concerts, the NCAA's refusal to host tournaments in North Carolina, and the NAACP's national economic boycott — to name just a few.

Shortly after the bill was signed into law last year, then-Gov. Pat McCrory (R) assured North Carolinians the law would not impact the state's status as "one of the top states to do business in the country." Lt. Gov Dan Forest has maintained the bill's effect is "minimal to the state" and warned people not to be "fooled by the media" into thinking the issue is "about the economy."

But The Associated Press found North Carolina's economy "could be growing faster if not for the projects that have already [been] canceled," noting its cost estimate is "likely an underestimation." In total, North Carolina has lost out on "more than 2,900 direct jobs that went elsewhere," AP reported.

Because the estimate is based on projects and events the state has already lost out on, North Carolina won't be getting that money back even if the law gets repealed. Read the full story over at The Associated Press. Becca Stanek

9:53 a.m. ET

While many moderate Republicans are now eyeing opportunities to cooperate with Democrats on health care, still others are doubling-down on their repeal message. For House Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), whose ultra-conservative faction helped take down the GOP health-care bill, the do-or-die message has earned him positive feedback in his home state, Politico reports. As one local flier advertising a Meadows rally raves: "This is the face of leadership! Thank Mark and all those who gave us an opportunity to get health care right."

"I respect [Meadows] for staying true to his principles," said one of Meadows' constituents, Jerry Moore of Highlands, North Carolina. "Trump promised repeal. That was no repeal."

"What's happening now is no longer the Trump plan. It is the Obama plan," agreed the local GOP chairman, Jackson County's Ralph Slaughter.

The Affordable Care Act covered thousands of people in North Carolina in 2016, but only one insurer in the state participates in the ObamaCare exchanges. Still, as Highlands Mayor Patrick Taylor told Politico: "People like the Affordable Care Act. They don't like ObamaCare. And they just don't realize [they're the same]."

For his part, Meadows said Sunday: "This is not the end of the [health-care] debate. It's like saying that Tom Brady lost at halftime." Jeva Lange

9:41 a.m. ET

When CBS correspondent Scott Pelley sat down with Michael Cernovich, founder of alt-right blog Danger and Play, on Sunday night's episode of 60 Minutes to discuss fake news, it quickly became apparent that Cernovich's definition of "truth" was not the same as Pelley's. Cernovich's blog — which Pelley noted has "become a magnet for readers with a taste for stories with no basis in fact" — was one of several websites that pushed the Pizzagate story, the conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton was operating a child sex-trafficking operation in the back of a D.C. pizzeria which led a man to open fire in that pizzeria last December.

"These news stories are fakes," Pelley said, right off the bat. "They're definitely not fake," Cernovich said, insisting the stories were "not lies at all" and "100 percent true."

When Pelley asked if Cernovich was just saying that because "it's important for marketing" his website, Cernovich maintained he believed it. "I don't say anything that I don't believe," Cernovich said, claiming that's a "high bar" because he's an attorney.

Pelley pointed to a baseless headline published on Cernovich's blog, "Hillary Clinton has Parkinson's Disease, physician confirms," to see if he could get Cernovich to admit that may have been "misleading." The story was sourced to an anesthesiologist who had never met the Democratic presidential nominee, and was later denied by the National Parkinson Foundation and Clinton's doctor.

But Cernovich stood by it. "I don't take anything Hillary Clinton is gonna say at all as true. I'm not gonna take her on her word," he said. "The media says we're not gonna take Donald Trump on his word. And that's why we are in these different universes."

Watch the 60 Minutes segment below. Becca Stanek

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