Washington voters to decide on nation’s first carbon tax

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The smoke stacks at American Electric Power's (AEP) Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, West Virginia, October 30, 2009. In cooperation with AEP, the French company Alstom unveiled the world's largest carbon capture facility at a coal plant, so called "clean coal," which will store around 100,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide a year 2.1 kilometers (7,200 feet) underground. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

The smoke stacks at American Electric Power’s (AEP) Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, West Virginia, on Oct. 30, 2009. An initiative on Washington’s November ballot asks if the state should impose a carbon tax. Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

SEATTLE — Washington lawmakers have tried and failed in recent years to make big polluters pay for their carbon emissions to fight climate change. Now, voters will get to decide.

An initiative on the November ballot asks voters whether the state should impose the nation’s first direct carbon tax on the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and gasoline.

Sponsors say residents have a moral responsibility to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and a carbon tax is the best way to do it. They say the tax encourages businesses to conserve or switch to clean energy by making fossil fuels more expensive.

Businesses say the tax will drive up fuel and energy costs and put Washington companies at a competitive disadvantage.

And in a move that has bewildered some, major environmental groups do not support the measure. They say it doesn’t take the right approach.

The post Washington voters to decide on nation’s first carbon tax appeared first on PBS NewsHour.