NYC’s Pizza Pollution on the Chopping Block: New Regulation Targets Slice of the Issue

Come next month, a new regulation aimed at curbing emissions from coal and wood-fired stoves is set to roll out across New York City, impacting over 100 eateries, many of which are beloved pizzerias. The mandate requires these establishments to integrate a filter system slashing emissions by a whopping 75%, a move projected to cost around $20,000 per venue.

Councilmember Justin Brannan is stepping up to the plate, proposing legislation to offer tax credits to ease the financial strain on these restaurateurs. “If our aim is genuinely to cut emissions from these traditional ovens and not merely to generate revenue through fines on our cherished small businesses, then let’s extend a helping hand to ensure compliance,” Brannan emphasized.

The impending regulation sheds light on the stark pollution disparity between wood-fired stoves and their gas counterparts. Research indicates that burning wood emits two-and-a-half times more carbon than gas, while coal nearly doubles gas emissions.

Wood-fired pizzeria owners, while acknowledging the environmental impact of their craft, express reservations about the hefty costs associated with compliance. Mathieu Palombino of Motorino, for instance, burns through a cord of wood weekly, equating to a substantial carbon footprint. He mulls over transitioning to natural gas stoves, noting that the cost differential is minimal and taste remains unaffected.

Beyond the culinary world, the regulation underscores the broader issue of pollution stemming from commercial kitchens, with particulate matter and other pollutants reaching elevated levels in NYC’s densely populated areas.

As discussions continue, there’s a plea for governmental support to assist businesses in navigating these environmental regulations. Andrew Rigie of the NYC Hospitality Alliance advocates for financial aid to ensure compliance and alleviate the burden on affected establishments.

While the law is set to take effect next month, the Department of Environmental Protection has postponed issuing fines until 2025. As Ted Timbers of the DEP asserts, the goal is clear: safeguarding the health of all New Yorkers by mitigating the harmful emissions stemming from wood and coal-fired stoves.