New bill would exempt matzah bakeries, other restaurants from environmental rule

Staten Island Assemblyman proposes bill to exempt matzah bakeries, pizzerias from environmental rule that constitutes “discrimination against ethnic restaurants”

Borough park matzah bakery. Credit: Shtetl

Apr 2, 2024 12:10 PM


State Assemblyman Sam Pirozzolo is proposing a new bill that would exempt matzah bakeries and pizzerias from a new city rule meant to reduce restaurants’ carbon emissions, the New York Post reported.

Pirozzolo, a Republican who represents parts of Staten Island, including growing Haredi communities in Willowbrook and Manor Heights, told the Post that the city’s Department of Environmental Protection rule constitutes “discrimination against ethnic restaurants.”

The DEP’s rule, set to take effect on April 27, requires existing coal- and wood-fire restaurants to install expensive air filtration systems that significantly reduce emissions.

DEP spokesperson Ted Timbers explained the rationale for the rule in 2023. “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,” he said, adding that the agency consulted members of the restaurant industry when drafting the rule.

“Commercial cooking is a common source of PM2.5 — which is the most harmful urban air pollutant,” Timbers said. “It is small enough to penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream, which can worsen lung and heart disease and lead to hospital admissions and premature deaths.”

At the time, Alter Eckstein, a Williamsburg matzah bakery manager, told the Haredi news outlet Matzav that he opposed the rule. “This is how we bake for the past thousands of years, and we don’t want to change anything,” Eckstein said. He told the outlet his business had put $600,000 toward mitigating the ovens’ environmental impact. 

City Councilmember Justin Brannan has proposed a tax break for restaurants affected by the rule.