SPARTANBURG, SC - Spartanburg County took its first step on July 27 in improving the air quality of its diesel truck fleet.

When the work is complete, nine on-road diesel trucks —13 percent of the county's on-road diesel fleet — will be retrofitted with a filter and electric heater system that reduces particulate emissions by trapping and cooking the captured diesel particulate while the vehicle is parked overnight. The nitrogen dioxide emissions are reduced by about half, and no black smoke will come from the vehicles, according to The Spartanburg Herald-Journal.

The upgrades were financed through a $148,000 state Department of Health and Environmental Control grant. Johnnie Lewis, manager of fleet services, said the county will look for other ways to retrofit vehicles to improve air quality. Lewis said the county is looking into propane autogas and has implemented a no-idling policy.

Spartanburg County is in attainment with ozone standards, but new levels will be released in about six weeks and are expected to be more stringent.

If the county isn't in attainment, Barnes said the federal government will look at programs - such as the new "clean" diesel program - to see what public-private partnerships have been formed to improve air quality. Counties in non-attainment could lose federal highway funds and have restrictions placed on new industry, according to The Spartanburg Herald-Journal.