NYC pizza shop owner laments green regulation targeting pizzerias with ovens fired by wood

The owner of a New York City (NYC) pizzeria has lamented a new regulation targeting establishments like his that own ovens fired by wood and coal, calling it an overkill.

Paul “Paulie Gee” Giannone, owner of Paulie Gee’s Pizzeria in the Big Apple’s Brooklyn borough, aired out his sentiments over a new rule by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The DEP’s new rule, set to take effect on April 27, mandates restaurants with wood- and coal-fired stoves to cut carbon emissions by 75 percent.

Originally proposed in June 2023, the mandate applies to restaurants with cook stoves installed before May 2016. It requires affected pizzeria owners to install a filter, then hire an engineer to regularly inspect the carbon emissions. But according to Giannone, many businesses won’t be able to afford this.

“A sad day in my opinion. This regulation will go a long way to put an end t0 charming wood-fired pizza restaurants in NYC,” said Giannone. He added that more than 100 iconic pizzerias in the Big Apple could be forced out of business due to the DEP’s rule.

Giannone, who opened Paulie Gee’s Pizzeria around 14 years ago in Brooklyn, spent $20,000 on emission-control air filters for his wood-fired oven in anticipation of the DEP rule. The pizzeria owner continued: “I think putting this regulation in place for everyone, regardless if it’s having an impact on neighbors or not, is overkill.” (Related: Terence Corcoran: A not-so-green reality behind the green transition.)

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A DEP spokesperson told Fox News in an emailed statement that the NYC Council directed the city agency to develop the rule. They added that the department worked alongside environmental groups and restaurateurs.

“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 DEP’s statement said. “We are confident that these critical upgrades will allow us to cut harmful emissions and prioritize New Yorkers’ health and welfare, while preserving authentic NYC pizza.”

DEP to pizzeria owners: Comply or close

The DEP’s new rule led a Jewish bakery to spend over $600,000 on new air filtration systems ahead of its approval. Meanwhile, John’s of Bleecker Street – another iconic pizzeria – spent more than $100,000 on a smoke reduction system.

“We were told we had no choice. We have no business without our oven,” manager Joey Schirripa told the New York Post. “We understand the direction the city is going in. We want to be environmentally friendly.”

Grimaldi’s Pizza, another iconic pizza joint in the Big Apple, has shelled out money to install the filtration systems at its three locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. According to owner Anthony Piscina, the ovens have to reach a temperature of 1,200 degrees to properly cook the pizza slice – and only coal-fired ovens do that.

“We have to do it. We can’t cook pizza any other way,” Piscina remarked.

The DEP received 155 comments on the rule after it was proposed last year. While others supported the proposal, some blasted it for having a trivial impact on pollution. Meanwhile, some others argued that it would create a financial burden on struggling businesses following the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Why do I have to spend $20,000? I’m paying a ton of taxes already,” Giannone ultimately remarked, adding that taxpayers should be footing the bill if the city continues to impose costly regulations on its business owners.

“Regulation after regulation puts more pressure on us and makes it difficult to do business, particularly now with the cost of labor has gone up, the cost of the goods we have to buy to produce our products – it’s just making it more difficult.”

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Watch this video about how a wood-fired oven works.

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More related stories:

New York set to become first state to ban gas furnaces, stoves in new buildings.

Alarmists who oppose off-grid living now claim wood-burning stoves have killed 3 million people.

Archaeologists discover painting depicting an “ancestor” of modern-day Italian pizza in the ancient city of Pompeii.

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