BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Groups advocating for New York's transition to alternative energy sources are fighting back against what they say is National Fuel's outsized lobbying influence as state lawmakers consider legislation placing more restrictions and limitations on the market for carbon-based fossil fuels.

The Better Buildings NY Coalition is running digital advertisements in Buffalo criticizing the utility company for opposing the NY HEAT Act. The bill is aimed at moving the state toward its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets by, among other things, eliminating ratepayer-subsidized incentives for the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure, creating pathways for utilities to offer alternative options, and ensuring low-to-moderate income customers' bills are not more than 6% of their income.

The coalition says National Fuel has an added interest in maintaining the status quo because it not only delivers the utility but also is involved in fracking the gas.

"They have an interest in keeping us burning fracked gas as long as possible so that they can continue to sell their product, and so it's no surprise that they're working so hard to defeat this legislation," Alliance for a Green Economy Executive Director Jessica Azulay said.

According to information the coalition cited, compiled by Spring Street Climate Fund, National Fuel has more than quadrupled its total contributions to candidates in 2022 and 2023, since the act was first introduced, than the previous two years. Most of the contributions are directed toward lawmakers in Western New York that represent the company's customer base, according to the report.

Spring Street Climate Fund said only three lawmakers from the region — state Senator Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, Assemblyman Pat Burke, D-Buffalo, and Assemblyman David DiPietro, R-East Aurora — did not receive money from the National Fuel PAC over those two years. Azulay said the majority of Assembly members from all corners of the state sponsor the NY HEAT Act.

"But we see a big drop from support in National Fuel territory so we are very concerned about the influence that National Fuel has in Western New York politically and we do think that that is influencing the conversation on the NY HEAT Act," Azulay said.

The coalition said according to another study, one in four New Yorkers has an energy burden more than 6% of their income and those customers could save an average of $136 if the legislation is passed. The group is urging lawmakers to include the bill in the budget.

National Fuel, meanwhile, has pointed out weather patterns across New York State are vastly different and policies that move consumers away from "natural gas" will likely be even more burdensome for colder climate regions. The company has said the vast majority of customers in WNY heat their homes with it and building an electric network capable of carrying that load is not "practical or cost-effective."