The Biden administration announced on Wednesday that it will cancel three planned oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska’s Cook Inlet, effectively ending the possibility of selling drilling leases in coastal waters this year, according to multiple media outlets.

According to a Department of Interior spokesperson, the decision was made for a variety of reasons, including a lack of interest from oil companies and legal obstacles.

The department “will not move forward” with the sale in Alaska’s Cook Inlet “due to a lack of industry interest in leasing in the area,” according to a spokesperson, and the department will not hold two sales in the Gulf of Mexico “due to delays due to factors such as conflicting court rulings that impacted work on these proposed lease sales.”

According to Reuters, the planned sales were the last to be held under a five-year plan for leasing in federal waters that expires in June. The Biden administration is preparing to let it lapse in the absence of a new program.

The announcement comes as gas prices in the United States reach an all-time high. On Tuesday, the average price of regular gasoline in the United States was $4.37 per gallon, breaking the previous record set in early March, shortly after Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.

In recent weeks, Biden has stated that the United States will increase its gas supply to Europe in an effort to reduce global reliance on Russian energy. However, the lease action is consistent with Biden’s campaign promise to combat climate change more aggressively.

According to Kristen Monsell, Oceans Program legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity, the lease in Cook Inlet would have allowed drilling in an area home to critically endangered beluga whales, resulting in hundreds of oil spills over the 40 years of drilling permitted by the lease sale.

“I’m relieved that Cook Inlet belugas will not be subjected to additional oil drilling in their only habitats,” Monsell said. “However, much more must be done to protect these endangered whales from offshore drilling.” “We need to stop new leasing and phase out existing drilling to save endangered marine life and protect coastal communities and our climate from pollution.”

Drew Caputo, Earthjustice’s vice president of litigation for lands, wildlife, and oceans, told CBS News that the planned leases could have an impact on gas prices for more than a decade.

“It’s good for the climate, which can’t handle more oil and gas development,” said Caputo. “It’s beneficial to Cook Inlet because offshore drilling is hazardous and disruptive. It’s also good for the people of Cook Inlet, including natives who value the inlet in its natural state. So it’s a fantastic thing.”

The American Petroleum Institute’s Frank Macchairola slammed the Biden administration for canceling the Cook Inlet lease, calling it “another example of the administration’s lack of commitment to oil and gas development in the United States,” according to CBS.

In a statement, National Republican Congressional Committee spokesperson Mike Berg noted the nation’s already record-high gas prices, adding, “democrats seem intent on exacerbating the problem.”

The Alaska lease would have covered over one million acres. According to the Hill, lease sales in the area were canceled in 2006, 2008, and 2010, with a lack of industry interest cited at the time.