A proposal in Washington state to tax carbon emissions from fossil fuels has cleared a key fiscal committee.

The state Senate Ways and Means Committee passed Senate Bill 6203 Thursday afternoon. The measure now awaits action by the full Senate.

The bill imposes a new tax of $12 per metric ton of carbon emissions on the sale or use of fossil fuels such as gasoline and natural gas. Gov. Jay Inslee initially sought $20 per ton. The tax would begin in 2019 and in 2021 would increase $1.80 per ton each year until it is capped at $30 a ton.

If the measure clears the Legislature, Washington would be the first in the nation to impose a direct tax on carbon emissions.

Bill sponsor Sen. Reuven Carlyle, a Democrat, says it's a modest investment that would achieve meaningful carbon reductions. He says revenues would be invested in clean energy, rural areas and natural resources.

Several Republicans called it regressive energy tax that would hurt working families.