What does it mean for you


It is always a relief to learn that certain practices in your facility are not subject to TRI reports. However, navigating through the complexities of each exemption can be difficult. Many ERA’s TRI webinar attendees needed clarification regarding the TRI motor vehicles exemption.

Former TRI Coordinator Nora Lopez has answered a number of questions regarding the vehicle exemption. She also provided EPA Resources for you to investigate further. This article will help you understand the rule and provide examples from the EPA.

What is the TRI Vehicle Exemption?

This regulation relates to EPCRA 313(TRI) chemicals used in your facility for the maintenance of motor vehicles. The regulation states:

Exemptions apply to the use of toxic chemicals in products used for maintenance of motor vehicles owned by the facility.


The definition of “vehicle-maintenance activities” may appear straightforward, but it is not always the case. For example, maintenance of a plane will differ from maintenance of a forklift and crane. EH&S professionals need to know what should be reported and what shouldn’t. This was evident in the questions asked during ERA’s TRI Reporting webinar.

Sample Vehicle Tax Exemption Questions

Could you please explain the TRI in relation to vehicles and fuel reporting?

Does this rule apply only to on-site vehicles or plant-to-plant fuel consumption?

What TRI threshold activities apply to vehicle exemption?

The EPA automotive regulations apply only to the TRI category ‘otherwise-use’ and do not cover the manufacturing or processing of toxic chemicals such as combustion byproducts. The diagram below shows a list of ‘Otherwise Use’ activities, which include maintenance on vehicles operated by your company.

Maintenance Chemicals & Types Of Vehicles Included in the TRI Motor Vehicle Exemption 

Manufacturing Activities are excluded from the exemption, and so combustion products such as TRI chemicals should not be excluded and included in your threshold calculation and releases calculation.

As mentioned earlier, activities of processing also fall under and are not exempt. The EPA uses the example of a vehicle maker who adds transmission fluids containing a listed TRI-chemical to vehicles before they’re shipped. The fluid is included in a product that is sold commercially.

Vehicle exemption only applies to otherwise Used activities. The release of toxic chemicals from gasoline or other motor vehicle maintenance products used by facility or company vehicles is not required to be reported in the waste management and release reporting.

The Motor Vehicle Exemption Does not Apply to Stationary Equipment, for instance, the use of lubricants in stationary process equipment, such as pumps and compressors. Fuels for stationary sources of energy, such as furnaces, boilers, and heaters, are also not exempt.

What happens if an installation stores fuel for use by both vehicles on site and those in other facilities?

The exemption is only applicable to motor vehicles parked at the storage facility. To address this technicality, the EPA pointed out that if fuel is being used in trucks to be sent to other facilities and locations, storage falls under the processing activities category, which makes it subject to TRI reporting. Off-site gasoline refueling for trucks would not be excluded. You may qualify for an exemption if you have a truck that is fuelled offsite.

Jet fuel used to refuel aircraft is also subject to the same rules. The fuel does not need to be reported if it is only used for moving planes around the facility. If you use jet fuel to fill up planes to be used or sold commercially and then leave your facility, this activity is considered processing.

Do I need to report chemicals used to maintain rail cars or tractor-trailers that do not have motors?

Because they are not motorized vehicles, the paints and lubricants used to maintain railcars or tractor-trailers must be included in threshold calculations and reported under TRI. This includes barges, dredging equipment and other company equipment without a motor.

What if I use a chemical to deice my vehicle?

To de-ice their aircraft, aerospace facilities use ethylene glycol. This activity falls under the exemption as it is a maintenance practice. You can bypass the threshold determination for this activity.

It may seem that deicing is a simple maintenance task, but the situation becomes more complicated when the chemical has other uses in the facility. Many companies, for example, use methanol on-site as windshield wiper fluid but also in processed products. In this case, only the methanol that is used in antifreeze can be excluded from your calculations.

Automating EPA Exemption Determinations

Many facilities choose to automate the TRI reporting process. Software that takes into account all of the above-stated nuances will ensure you do not miss any reportable chemicals. ERA’s TRI software will handle your threshold determination and automatically omit chemicals and activities which do not require reporting. This saves you from having to comb through EPA FAQs to find a clear answer to your situation.

ERA not only handles threshold determinations and exemptions but also generates a CDX-ready file, which reduces the burden of reporting. ERA scientists are also vigilant in checking TRI regulations and updating the platform if there are any changes to chemical or activity-related regulations. This saves your EH&S team the trouble of figuring out what each TRI updates means for your facility.

Schedule a call below to speak with a Project Analyst about this simple method of TRI reporting.

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