CNN reports that President Obama plans to "expedite the permit" for the Keystone XL pipeline's southern portion, which looks like a public play to appear responsive to higher gas prices even as it comes just a few months after Obama blocked the natural gas pipeline's original permit. After Obama rejected the first permit, saying his administration didn't have enough time to investigate the environmental impact, TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, announced they would seek a permit to build the southern half of it, a move Obama praised. But by pushing the permit process (CNN says the White House can "shave several months" off the process that's expected to take a year or two) he's now actively aiding their efforts. Of course, Obama's initial block was in part a response to a huge protest of the project from environmentalists, so his new championing of the cause isn't likely to please them. But this move will give him a response, in an election year, to Republicans who are pegging him for higher gas prices and blocking the pipeline in the first place.