NASHVILLE - Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery is trying to overturn this month's historic decision by federal regulators that allows Chattanooga's EPB and other municipally-owned power distributors to offer high-speed internet outside their service areas.
The state's chief attorney on Friday quietly petitioned the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the Federal Communications Commission's final order in the case in which EPB and the city of Wilson, N.C., successfully sought to strike down state laws barring them from expanding their internet and video offerings outside their service areas.
Slatery says the FCC ruling "preempts Tennessee law pertaining to the operation of municipal electric plants, including the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, an instrumentality of the City of Chattanooga, created and controlled by the State of Tennessee.
"In so doing, the FCC has unlawfully inserted itself between the State of Tennessee and the State's own political subdivisions," the petition says. "The State of Tennessee, as a sovereign and a party to the proceeding below, is aggrieved and seeks relief."
Slatery says that's based on grounds the FCC's order "is contrary to the United States Constitution" as well as "in excess of the Commission's authority."
The petition also charges the order is "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion within the meaning of the Administrative Procedure Act" and "is otherwise contrary to law."
Later this afternoon, an effort to change state law and allow EPB and other municipal electric systems to operate outside their service areas is scheduled to come before the state's Senate Commerce Committee and the House Business and Utilities Subcommittee.
EPB's efforts have been opposed for years by AT&T, Comcast and other investor-owned telecommunications companies, which argue it is unfair to allow government entitites to compete with free enterprise.
The municipal public power distributors and the FCC say changes are necessary because the companies are not providing service in many areas because it doesn't make economic sense to their shareholders.