After years of debate and controversy, New York City has approved a rule requiring restaurants to install emission-reducing equipment on their wood-fired or coal-fired ovens. The costly devices cut down on odors, smoke and particulates known to cause asthma and other respiratory ailments.

The rule will impact around 130 pizza restaurants, which must either install the devices—called “scrubbers”—or prove why they can’t comply with the requirement. If they can’t feasibly reduce emissions by 75%, they must aim for a goal of at least 25%.

The rule applies to wood-fired and coal-fired ovens installed prior to May 6, 2016.

Related: Is New York City really trying to ban wood-fired pizzerias?

The rule was originally passed in 2016, but enforcement has been delayed while city officials grappled with the difficulties faced by some pizzerias in managing the “technical and cost concerns [associated with] the installation of emission control devices,” according to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

“For example, costs for controls for existing cook stoves can be difficult to manage as the spaces in which these cook stoves operate are often aging structures that were not designed to accommodate emission control devices,” the finalized DEP rule notes. Additionally, permission from the landlord might be required when the restaurant operators don’t actually own the ovens.

The New York Post reports that some locals were incensed by the rule, although pizzerias like Grimaldi’s Pizza have already either installed the required devices or are in the process of doing so. Co-owner Anthony Piscina said Grimaldi’s has had to shell out $50,000 to install the filtration system at one of its Manhattan stores. “We have to do it,” Piscina told the Post. “We can’t cook pizza any other way.”

Paul Giannone said his company paid $20,000 to install the emission-control system at Paulie Gee’s Pizza in Brooklyn prior to the pandemic, since he knew the rule was coming. “It’s a big deal,” he told the Post. “I did what I needed to do. It’s better than closing.”

John’s of Bleecker Street, which uses coal-fired ovens, spent more than $100,000 on its system. “We were told we had no choice,” manager Joey Schirripa explained to the Post. “We have no business without our oven.”

But he added, “We understand the direction the city is going in. We want to be environmentally friendly.”

City Councilman Justin Brannan has called on the city to provide tax breaks to those restaurants that must comply with the rule. “If the goal here is truly to reduce the emissions produced by these old-school ovens and not to raise revenue by issuing more fines to our beloved small businesses, then let’s help these pizzerias comply instead of setting them up to fail,” Brannan told the New York Post.

He added, “I’m confident we can come up with a solution so nobody gets burned.”

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