A storm is brewing in the New York food scene, a storm born of seemingly well-intentioned climate protection regulations. Still, the crucial question remains: is it a storm we have to weather?
According to a recent article in The Post, New York’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has proposed new rules targeting decades-old pizza parlor baking methods. In particular, the ministry is cracking down on coal and wood-fired stoves, calling for a 75% reduction in CO2 emissions. DEP spokesman Ted Timbers explains:
“All New Yorkers deserve to breathe clean air, and wood and coal stoves are among the biggest contributors to harmful pollutants in poor air quality neighborhoods.”
While we can all support the desire for cleaner air, the overall impact of these regulations is questionable at best. A city official admitted fewer than 100 restaurants would be affected by the ordinance, leading us to ask: Is it worth it?
Paul Giannone, owner of Paulie Gee’s in Greenpoint, has reportedly spent $20,000 on an air filtration system in anticipation of the new rules, a price many small businesses can hardly afford. Giannone summarized the situation as follows:
“Oh yes, it’s a big expense! It’s not just about the cost of installation, it’s also about maintenance. I have to pay someone to go there every couple of weeks, hose down the water and do the maintenance.”
Another anonymous restaurateur, furious at the proposed rules, exclaimed:
“And for what? Do you really think that you are changing the environment with these eight or nine pizza ovens?!”
Adding to the controversy, many customers argue that the change would alter the taste of pizzas baked in these traditional ovens. Brooklyn Heights resident Saavi Sharma lamented:
“I’m all for environmental stewardship, but tell Al Gore to take one less private jet or something. Give me a break!”
Dave Portnoy speaks out.
While DEP officials claim they consulted with restaurateurs when drafting the rules, responses suggest the opposite. The truth is that these regulations not only endanger the authenticity and flavor of New York pizza, they also place an unnecessary burden on small businesses already badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the anonymous restaurateur pointed out, when this brief is about significantly improving its environmental impact, it is completely misguided.
To echo Sharma’s views, let’s focus on the real culprits of pollution and let’s not interfere in our part. The taste of authentic New York pizza, baked in a coal and wood-fired oven, is a legacy we should cherish, not discard.