Any way you slice it, the best pizza pollutes
A very happy 4th of July to our readers. We'll be back on Wednesday.
We are very fortunate in having a great pizza place near us on New York City’s Upper East Side that we order from frequently and eat at occasionally. It’s called Nick’s, and its product is thin, crispy and tasty.
But when we want a true pizza treat, we head to Connecticut and a branch of the New Haven-based Frank Pepe mini-chain. In particular, we get their clam pie, which is loaded with delicious shellfish and is a slice-lover’s dream.
Apart from the yummy clams, part of the reason Pepe’s packs a pizza punch is how it’s cooked: in a coal-fired oven. Not only is the heat produced intense, but the smoke from the fire adds flavor that takes it to a different level.
And therein, says the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, lies a problem: pizza pollution. Yes, bureaucrats have drafted new rules that would order pie makers who produce using coal or wood to cut emissions by up to 75%.
“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,” DEP spokesman Ted Timbers said in a statement.
Perhaps needless to say, the new regulations have cooks and connoisseurs up in arms, with parlor owners also complaining about the costs involved. “Oh yeah, it’s a big expense!” Paul Giannone, the owner of Paulie Gee’s in Brooklyn, told the New York Post of the $20,000 device needed to control the fumes. “It’s not just the expense of having it installed, it’s the maintenance. I got to pay somebody to do it, to go up there every couple of weeks and hose it down and, you know, do the maintenance.”
And another owner, who didn’t want to be named, told the paper his crusts would be ruined. “If you (bleep) around with the temperature in the oven you change the taste,” he said. “That pipe, that chimney, it’s that size to create the perfect updraft, keeps the temp perfect. It’s an art as much as a science. You take away the char, the thing that makes the pizza taste great, you kill it,” he claimed.
Pollution vs. perfect pizza? Any way you slice it, that’s a tough one.
This pol’s pretzel logic is just peachy
Last Monday, I attended an event at Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y where one of the few Republican politicians I admire, Liz Cheney, was interviewed about her decision to go after President Donald Trump about January 6, thus ending her political career (for now, at least). Deservedly, she was welcomed with much cheering and a standing ovation from the liberal New York City crowd.
Another GOP figure from that time I also respected — note the past tense — was Georgia’s governor, Brian Kemp, who refused to change election results in his state despite huge pressure from Trump and others.
That was until I read an AP story about how Kemp, in the most wacky way possible, has joined other Republicans in rising anti-ESG craziness.
It went like this: Kemp traveled on Tuesday to rural Bainbridge, in the state’s far southwest corner, to speak at the groundbreaking for an $800 million factory that will refine graphite for batteries. The company, Anovion Technologies, decided to make the investment after it received $100 million from President Joe Biden’s climate-focused Inflation Reduction Act, which was signed into law last August.
“Georgia’s electric mobility boom is taking place because our state is second to none for companies looking to invest, relocate, expand, and innovate — not because the federal government continues to put their thumb on the scale, favoring a few companies over the industry as a whole,” Kemp said, according to remarks from his speech that were released in advance.
Yes, with its relatively low labor costs and favorable permitting processes, the Peach State is undoubtedly investor-friendly, helping to make it the single-biggest beneficiary of the EV investment boom, with more than 40 electric vehicle-related projects since 2020 pledging $22.7 billion of investment and 28,400 jobs in the state.
However, Kemp’s pretzel-like twists are in the Kevin McCarthy mold, leading one of the state’s two Democratic U.S. senators, Jon Ossoff, to state that “It is bizarre to attend a groundbreaking and launch a political attack on the very policy that made the groundbreaking possible.”
Sorry, Brian Kemp, but you are no Liz Cheney.
My selfish quibble with NYC’s congestion pricing
As a longtime Manhattanite — almost 30 years! — I’ve been watching with great interest the long journey towards congestion pricing on the island below 60th Street, something that looks likely to happen now that the federal government signed off on the plan last week.
First, my own, self-interested, situation: A prediction that commuters trying to avoid the tolls will park in my neighborhood — and others north of the line — and do the last leg by subway. It’s already hard enough to find a parking space; this has the potential to make it near impossible. In this regard, I have been writing to city and state politicians to urge them to create residents-only parking permits, something that happens in many major cities around the world, including London, which has had congestion pricing since February 2003.
I’m not the only one with personal concerns. Taxi and ride-share drivers are up in arms, as are commuters and businesses from other boroughs and beyond facing tolls, yet to be finalized, as high as $23. In particular, New Jerseyites have, as The New York Times reports, cast the measure as a “border war,” with the Garden State governor, Phil Murphy, even launching a billboard campaign against the plan.
Overall, though, I think the program, which is predicted to start in about a year, is a good one, especially having seen the results in my native London. Instead of the traffic-clogged streets I recall from my youth, the roads in the zone there — a much larger one than planned for New York — are blissfully quiet and pollution-free. Instead of emerging from the centrally located Charing Cross railroad station to the sound of honking horns and belching exhausts, there is a soothing calm.
In addition to the lowering of noise and pollution, the project is set to raise considerable amounts of money — about $1 billion a year — to improve public transportation, including by building new elevators in the subways and modernizing an antiquated and inefficient signaling system.
As a frequent subway and bus user, I very much welcome that, too.
(A native of England, veteran journalist Matthew Diebel has worked at NBC News, Time, USA Today and News Corp., among other organizations. Having spent much of his childhood next to one of the world's fastest bodies of water, he is particularly interested in tidal energy.)