Department cracks down on older ovens
The department’s newly drafted rules would require eateries with coal- and wood-fired ovens purchased before 2016 to purchase and install emission-control devices. According to multiple reports, the move could slash emissions by up to 75%.
These new rules comply with former mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2015 Local Law 38, which sought to regulate the use of fossil fuels and carbon emissions in NYC.
For Musk’s part, he’s unconvinced it’ll make a difference: “This is utter bs. It won’t make a difference to climate change,” he said in a tweet.
It’s primarily the cost of these devices has critics heated — especially considering they place the financial burden on restaurateurs, many of whom are still recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Oh yeah, it’s a big expense!” Paul Giannone, the owner of Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint, told the New York Post after having installed at $20,000 air filtration system in anticipation of the new rules. “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.”
While the emissions rules will only apply to ovens installed before 2016, many of them are among NYC’s most popular pizzerias and family-owned businesses. A change to their ovens may be more than just an extra expense — some worry it could even alter the taste of some of the city’s most iconic slices.
The debate heats up
New York City Mayor Eric Adams jumped into the fray to defend the policies. "I think nothing is more clearer to all of us as what this environment is going through after two weeks ago with the fire in Canada," the mayor said at a recent press conference. "That smoke is the type of smoke that we're talking about.”
Adams was referring to the Canadian wildfires that have left a blanket of smoke over much of the country’s eastern coast over the past weeks. The pollution was so bad on June 8 that the city hit a record-high on the Air Quality index of 460 — the highest number since 1999, according to data compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency.
City regulators argue that burning wood (whether in a Canadian forest or a pizza oven) releases an exceptional amount of PM2.5 particles that can penetrate the lungs and enter the bloodstream. This can magnify the risk of lung and heart disease.
The city also stressed that based on its estimate, the new rules would impact fewer than 100 pizza outlets across the city.
For now, Adams added nothing is set in stone and the pros and cons of both sides will be considered before authorities move ahead in either direction.
"Right now we are at the public moment where the public can weigh in,” Adams said. “Let the public weigh in, let the public give their thoughts and then we'll make the final determination. We don't want to hurt businesses in the city, and we don't want to hurt the environment."
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