NYC To Regulate Ovens
New York City pizzerias have been told by the Department of Environmental Protection that they must cut carbon emissions by 75 percent or else face hefty fines.
According to the DEP, the mandate is part of the city’s efforts to reduce air pollution, particularly in areas with poor air quality, and to provide New Yorkers with healthy air to breathe.
“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,” said Ted Timbers, spokesman for the New York City DEP. “This common-sense rule, developed with restaurant and environmental justice groups, requires a professional review of whether installing emission controls is feasible.”
The mandate will require restaurants with pre-2016 ovens to pay upwards of $20,000 to install air filtration systems, which will also require continued maintenance. If the report concludes that a 75 percent decrease cannot be achieved, the restaurant must identify any emission controls that could provide a 25 percent reduction. Restaurants may apply for a waiver if they can demonstrate financial hardship.
Paul Giannoni, the owner of Paulie Gee’s, commented on the new rule, noting the large expense the filtration system can be and the hassle of maintenance.
“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.”
Giannoni also noted the positives, such as the improved air quality experienced by nearby residents.
“My neighbors are much happier,” he said. “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.”
An anonymous and unnamed business owner criticized the rule, calling it an “unfounded mandate” and noting that it could drastically affect the quality and taste of the pizzas. Giannoni, however, disagreed, assuring that the filtration system would not ruin the pizzas.
“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,” he said. “No, it doesn’t affect what’s going on inside the oven, no, it hasn’t changed the taste. It hasn’t changed the pizza. It hasn’t changed our product at all.”
It remains to be seen how New York City pizzerias will respond to the mandate, particularly given the high cost and potential to ruin pie quality. The rule could affect up to 100 restaurants, including Lombardo’s in Little Italy, Arturo’s in Soho, and John’s of Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village.