In June 2023, social media users and news outlets posted various claims regarding a proposed New York City rule allegedly aimed at cutting carbon emissions in pizzerias. Some users claimed it had to do with climate change; others claimed that the proposed law was already in effect.
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection is now ruling that restaurants with coal and wood fire ovens need to cut carbon emissions by up to 75%.
Why is this a problem?
The majority of NYC's world-famous pizza joints utilize decades-old brick ovens,…
— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) June 27, 2023
Let's begin with what's true.
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) of New York City announced that it was in the process of putting in action rules that would establish requirements for the installation of control devices aimed at reducing emissions from wood- and coal-fired cooking stoves at restaurants in existence since before May 6, 2016. On June 27, a public hearing was held both in New York and online to give citizens a chance to express their opinions on the proposal.
The rule aims, specifically, to reduce the release of particulate matter, which causes respiratory issues such as asthma. Particulate matter (PM) is a complex mixture of tiny particles made up of solids or liquids that are in the air. The rule refers particularly to inhalable particles with diameters that are generally 10 micrometers and smaller (referred to as PM10). The proposal states that "cook stoves used at food-service establishments must have an emission control device for odors, smoke, and particulates."
The Rule Has Nothing To Do with Carbon Dioxide or Climate Change
Most importantly, for purposes of this fact check, nowhere in the entire document (you can read it here), is carbon dioxide or climate change mentioned, contrary to what some social media users claimed. Those specific concerns were not named as reasons for adopting the new rule. Some misleading headlines also suggested that the new rule was already in effect, but as of this writing, that is not the case.
(Twitter user @libbyemmons)
The proposed rule was included in the DEP's regulatory agenda for this fiscal year. On the NYC Rules website, we found that operators of cook stoves (wood fired or anthracite coal fired ones) installed prior to May 6, 2016, are required to hire a professional engineer or registered architect to assess the feasibility of installing emission controls on the stoves in order to achieve a 75% reduction in particulate emissions. Such assessment must be submitted to the DEP within one year of the effective date of this rule and if such a device can be installed, it needs to be done within 180 days from the assessment submission.
What's more, if this assessment concludes that a reduction of 75% cannot be achieved, or that no emissions controls can be installed, the assessor must identify any emission controls that could provide a reduction in emissions of at least 25%, or an explanation of why no emission controls can be installed.
An advisory committee was consulted in the development of the proposed rules that included, among others, representatives from the restaurant industry, representatives of the environmental protection, and experts in the health effects of pollutants associated with cooking devices
The DEP stated that it considered the availability and cost of emissions-control devices when developing the rule. It was originally supposed to be put into action before the beginning of 2020, but was delayed due to the difficulty of "crafting a rule to manage technical and cost concerns." The advisory committee took additional time to consider those factors. The COVID19 pandemic further delayed the proposal.