NYC cracks down on wood and coal-fired pizzerias due to carbon emission concerns



(Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP via Getty Images)

By Noah Herring
4:02 PM – Monday, June 26, 2023

New York City is looking to set regulations that would force pizzerias to pay thousands of dollars in renovations in order to keep their coal and wood-fire ovens due to air quality concerns, according to a recent report. 

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has drafted new rules that would force pizzerias with coal and wood-fire pizzerias installed before 2016 to install emission control devices which reportedly cut carbon emissions by 75%.

Restaurant owners would soon be required to install a filter to their ovens as well as hire an engineer to regularly inspect the emissions. However, the process is quite pricey, reportedly costing one owner $20,000 on a new air filter in anticipation of the new mandate.

“Oh yeah, it’s a big expense!” said Paul Giannone, the owner of Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint. “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.”

A city official claimed that less than 100 restaurants would be impacted by the proposed mandate.

“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,” DEP spokesman Ted Timbers said in a statement on Sunday. “This common-sense rule, developed with restaurant and environmental justice groups, requires a professional review of whether installing emission controls is feasible.”

One pizzeria owner, who requested anonymity, told reporters that negotiations were taking place between DEP officials regarding whether or not they would grandfather-in or exempt dozens of coal and wood-fired pizzerias from the mandate.

“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 owner said. 

“If you f**k 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,” he continued. “And for what? You really think that you’re changing the environment with these eight or nine pizza ovens?!”

Many customers agreed with the Pizzeria owner, citing other methods that the government should utilize combat carbon emissions.

“I’m all for responsible environmental practice but tell Al Gore to take one less private jet or something. Give me a break!” said Brooklyn Heights resident Saavi Sharma, 32, referring to the former vice president.

Under the proposed rules, restaurants would be allowed to apply for a variance or waiver, but must “provide evidence” of financial hardship.