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Trucks now face inspection pretty much anywhere in the state, according to the CARB website: California Highway Patrol weigh stations, distribution centers, fleet facilities, truck stops, and random roadside locations. CARB also plans to check for compliance through electronic audits of truck fleets.

Noncompliant vehicles face a minimum monthly penalty of $1,000 per violation — and could be impounded.

The CCTA filed suit to stop the regulations, arguing that the rules were preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Act, which bans state regulations that would affect the “prices, routes, or services” of motor carriers.

But the federal Environmental Protection Agency approved the California rules before the truckers got their day in court.

Ms. Caesar said California has a “unique relationship with the EPA” because of the state’s persistently poor air quality. She said the state’s high number of cars on the road, as well as its busy ports, pose challenges to air cleanliness that other states do not face. When the American Lung Association ranks cities with the worst air quality, she said, “three of them are usually in California.”

“We always have, for many decades, had the worst air quality in the nation, We do have the option to have stricter regulations than is required nationally,” Ms. Caesar said. “We get waivers to implement these regulations.”

U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England dismissed the truckers’ case Dec. 20, ruling that when the EPA approved the rules, the case left his court’s jurisdiction. If the CCTA wants to keep fighting the regulations, it will have to include the federal agency in its lawsuit.

Mr. McClellan said that’s exactly what the truckers intend to do.

The CCTA will take its case “to another federal district court out in California or even to the Supreme Court,” he said. “Congress said really that no state can regulate transportation differently than any other state, because that makes unfair competition.”

Mr. Shaw said he and the California Trucking Association have also tried to get CARB to consider industry concerns before implementing the rules — to no avail. 

“Oftentimes, the ARB, they’ll just call you a ‘denier,’ ” he said. “So it’s difficult oftentimes to have a discussion.”

Katherine Timpf, a digital editor at Times247, is a 2012 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow with the Phillips Foundation in Washington, D.C.Follow Katherine on Twitter @kctimpf