Plan to reduce emissions from New York pizza ovens by 75% faces opposition

A resident of New York eats a slice

Locals in New York City have mixed feelings about a plan to reduce emissions from coal and wood-burning pizza ovens by 75%.

On Friday, a rule change was suggested that would compel pizzerias to determine whether they can install emissions control devices for their kitchen stoves.

Critics claim the equipment will be expensive and might change the flavor of the renowned cheese and tomato pie.

In protest, a man threw pizza at New York City Hall on Monday.

Conservative activist Scott LoBaido yelled, invoking a phrase from the anti-British Revolutionary War, "Give us pizza or give us death.".

Eric Adams, the mayor of New York, was alerted to the incident and immediately defended the cherished city institution with fervor.

He stated on Monday, "I believe pizzas have saved more marriages than any other food.". "Sharing a pie with your special someone is like, the ultimate. ".

Coal and wood-fired ovens installed before 2016 will be subject to the new regulation proposed by the city's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Less than 100 of the city's numerous pizza joints will be impacted, according to officials.

Restaurants must examine their exhaust systems to see if they can be fitted with scrubbers that can capture pollutants. If so, it will be their responsibility to install and maintain them.   .

In response to criticism of the rule, the DEP released a statement 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," the statement read.

"This sensible regulation necessitates a professional assessment of the viability of installing emission controls, and was developed with restaurant and environmental justice groups. ".

Owners of pizzerias in New York told news organizations that they anticipate spending tens of thousands of dollars to install the emissions-trapping devices.

I'm going to carry it out. Pay for it," said Joe Calcagno, proprietor of the Capizzi Pizzeria in Hell's Kitchen, to CBS.

You know how many pizzas I have to sell to pay for that $20,000 oven, he continued, adding that the price will need to be passed along to customers.

A coal-fired pizza restaurant seen in Manhattan
a pizzeria in Manhattan serving coal-fired pizza.

Brooklyn restaurant owner Paul Giannone told the New York Post that he has already spent $20,000 (£15,600) getting ready for the new rule to go into effect.

Oh yes, he said, "it's a big expense.

"Maintenance costs are in addition to the price of having it installed. To go up there every few weeks, hose it down, and perform the necessary maintenance, I had to pay someone to do it. ".

The scrubbers he installed, he continued, have not affected the flavor of his product in any way.

He claimed that anyone who claimed that adding the scrubber to the pizza changed the flavor was only doing so to save $20,000 for themselves.

Before wood, which is more expensive to burn, was later introduced, historians claim that coal-fired pizza ovens were in use in New York.

Both give food a smoky flavor that some restaurants claim can't be replicated by ovens that burn cleaner. The crust becomes more crisp and has a gorgeously blistered appearance due to the fire's intense heat.

Although studies have shown that smoke-producing ovens can increase pollution and the harmful effects of breathing smog, it is unclear how the proposed rule change in New York will affect the environment.

In 2016, a study published in the academic journal Atmospheric Environment in Sao Paolo, Brazil, connected the city's love of pizza and barbecue to air pollution there.

New Yorkers waiting for a slice of pizza in 1957
In 1957, people in New York were awaiting their pizza.

In order to combat high pollution levels, a local mayor made headlines in 2015 by enacting a temporary ban on pizza ovens outside of Naples, Italy—the birthplace of pizza, where wood-fired pizzas are trademark protected by EU law.

Police in San Vitaliano have been given orders to search wood-fired pizzerias and bakeries in order to enforce the ban and to fine noncompliant companies over €1,000.

After the public comment period closes on July 27, the rule in New York won't go into effect. Some eateries won't have to adhere to the new regulation because they can't retrofit their kitchens.

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In response to the protester who threw a pizza at him on Monday, Mayor Adams stated that he intended to call the man "to tell him he needs to bring a vegan pie to me, so we can sit down, and I want to hear his side of this.".

"Vegan cheese on my pizza is my favorite. he added. "And speaking of pizza, is there anyone who doesn't like it?," she continued.

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