OLYMPIA, Wash. -

Washington voters have rejected that would impose the nation's first direct carbon tax on the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and gasoline.
   
Sponsors of Initiative 732 said residents have a moral responsibility to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and a carbon tax was the best way to do it. The tax encouraged businesses to conserve or switch to clean energy by making fossil fuels more expensive, and it makes the tax system fairer by using the revenues to reduce other taxes, they say.
   
Businesses said the tax would have driven up fuel and energy costs and put Washington companies at a competitive disadvantage.
   
Some major environmental and other groups -- including those that backed Gov. Jay Inslee's proposal last year to cap emissions and make carbon polluters pay -- opposed the initiative. They said it took the wrong approach.