A May 2016 rule dealing with harmful emissions from New York City’s coal- and wood-fired pizza ovens has drawn new attention after a U.S. senator from Tennessee claimed the city is trying to “ban wood-fired pizzerias.”

Spoiler alert: It’s not. But opening or operating a wood-fired or coal-fired pizza shop in the future could become even more expensive.

The rule, proposed by New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) seven years ago, required that newer wood-burning and coal-burning pizza ovens be equipped with an emission-control device—called a scrubber—that traps odors, smoke and particulate matter. More recently, the DEP has been considering a rule requiring pizzeria owners to add the emission-control device to older ovens that were installed before May 2016. The regulations will be discussed in a public hearing on July 27, where pizzeria owners and concerned citizens can weigh in.

Related: Hot tips for taking care of your pizza oven

According to the New York Post, a city official said fewer than 100 restaurants in the city would be impacted by the rule if it goes into effect. However, those restaurants include iconic shops like John’s of Bleecker Street, Patsy’s and Grimaldi’s.

Paul Giannone of Paulie Gee’s fame told the Post he’d spent $20,000 to purchase and install an emission-control device for his location in Brooklyn. He called it a “big expense” and “a huge hassle.” Giannone later confirmed that total cost to PMQ, noting, “It was $20,000 for one scrubber when you factor in the engineer, the electrician, plumber, etc.”

On Monday, June 26, U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee tweeted that “New York City wants to ban wood-fired pizzerias.” And in a Barstool Sports video, the site’s founder, Dave Portnoy, angrily claimed that liberals want to “get rid of coal-oven pizzerias in New York.”

this is a screenshot of a tweet by Sen. Marsha Blackburn claiming New York City wants to ban wood-fired pizzerias

As the debate raged on, Scott Wiener, owner of Scott’s Pizza Tours in New York, took to social media on June 27 to lower the temperature, so to speak. In an Instagram post, he noted that enforcement of the 2016 rule “got kicked down the road because of COVID, and now [city officials are] trying to figure out how and when to start enforcement.”

“The reality is that this is legislation that was passed in 2016,” Wiener said in an Instagram Reel the same day. “Most of the affected pizzerias have already complied….This is not an issue.”

“Is it going to change the taste of pizza?” Wiener added. “No. Pizzerias have already made the change. It doesn’t happen in the oven. It happens at the top of the exhaust.”

As CNN has reported, even those pizzeria owners who haven’t already complied with the rule might have a little wiggle room. The rule requires restaurateurs to hire an engineer or architect “to assess the feasibility of installing emission controls on the cook stove to achieve a 75% reduction in particulate emissions.” If installing the device isn’t feasible, the rule states that “the assessment must identify any emission controls that could provide a reduction of at least 25% or [give] an explanation for why no emission controls can be installed.”

Related: Gas vs. electric oven? Here are the pros and cons of both.

In a statement to the news media, DEP spokesman Ted Timbers noted, “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. This common-sense rule, developed with restaurant and environmental justice groups, requires a professional review of whether installing emission controls is feasible.”

If the rule is enforced, noncompliant pizzeria owners will have to shell out money either way, whether to buy and install the pricey emission-control device or to cover the cost of a professional assessment of their ovens.

“To some people, $20,000 could crush them, particularly since the pandemic,” Giannone told Fox News. “I just did it pre-pandemic, and it was a lot of money. But right now, there are some people that barely keep their doors open.”

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