New York City has told pizzerias that use coal or wood-burning ovens to slice their carbon emissions by 75 percent or else face hefty fines.
Ted Timbers, spokesman for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, confirmed the new rules on Sunday.
“All New Yorkers deserve to breathe healthy air and wood and coal-fired stoves are among the largest contributors of harmful pollutants in neighborhoods with poor air quality,” Timbers said in a statement. “This common-sense rule, developed with restaurant and environmental justice groups, requires a professional review of whether installing emission controls is feasible.”
According to the New York Post, the new rule will likely require pizzerias with pre-2016 ovens to pay upwards of $20,000 to install air filtration systems, which will include continued maintenance costs:
Under the mandate, restaurants with coal-and-wood-fired ovens must hire an engineer or architect to assess the feasibility of installing emission controls devices to achieve a 75% reduction in particulate emissions.
If this report concludes that a reduction of 75% or more cannot be achieved, or that no emissions controls can be installed, it must identify any emission controls that could provide a reduction of at least 25% or an explanation for why no emission controls can be installed.
The restaurant will be allowed to apply for a variance or waiver, but must provide evidence to prove a hardship.
Iconic pizzerias with coal or wood ovens that could be subject to the new rule include Lombardo’s in Little Italy, Arturo’s in Soho, and John’s of Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. Paul Giannoni, owner of Paulie Gee’s, told the Post that the filtration system can be a “big expense” and a “huge hassle” with a few upsides.
“Oh yeah, it’s a big expense!” said Giannoni. “It’s not just the expense of having it installed, it’s the maintenance. I got to pay somebody to do it, to go up there every couple of weeks and hose it down and you know do the maintenance.”
“My neighbors are much happier. I had a guy coming in for years complaining that the smoke was, you know, going right into his apartment and I haven’t seen him since I got the scrubber installed,” he added.
Up to 100 restaurants could be affected by the new rule. One restaurateur told the Post that some business owners have been trying to negotiate a grandfather clause, calling it an “unfounded mandate.” He also stressed that the filtration system will drastically affect the quality and taste of the product.
“This is an unfunded mandate and it’s going to cost us a fortune not to mention ruining the taste of the pizza totally destroying the product,” the anonymous business owner said. “If you fuck around with the temperature in the oven you change the taste. That pipe, that chimney, it’s that size to create the perfect updraft, keeps the temp perfect, it’s an art as much as a science. You take away the char, the thing that makes the pizza taste great, you kill it.”
“And for what? You really think that you’re changing the environment with these eight or nine pizza ovens?!” he added.
Giannoni disagreed with that assertion, telling the Post that the filtration system will not affect the taste.
“If someone is trying to say that putting the scrubber in changes the flavor of the pizza they’re just trying to save themselves $20,000. No, it doesn’t affect what’s going on inside the oven,” he said. “No, it hasn’t changed the taste. It hasn’t changed the pizza. It hasn’t changed our product at all.”
As Breitbart News reported this May, New York became the first state in the nation to ban natural gas and other fossil fuels in new buildings.
Paul Roland Bois joined Breitbart News in 2021. He also directed the award-winning feature film, EXEMPLUM, which can be viewed on Tubi, Google Play, YouTube Movies, or Vimeo on Demand. Follow him on Twitter @prolandfilms or Instagram @prolandfilms.