"I think this issue became highly politicized and almost religious during the campaign," Powell said.
"The Silicon Valley Netroots community, a very powerful community and a very important constituency to this administration is strongly, almost religiously, committed to this issue in a very forward-leaning way," he said.
That force has managed to sway communications policy, according to Powell.
"I think that provides a lot of power and impetus to keep this issue moving and to push a more extreme version of net neutrality," he said.
Asked by a Fox anchor if the government should do nothing on the issue, Powell said that is not the solution. "I don't think that's quite right," he said.
"I think there are reasons to be concerned that the fundamentals of the Internet — that is, its open, end-to-end nature — will be preserved," he said in support of a limited government role.
There is a consensus among carriers and Web companies that some government role would help, according to Powell. Watch the interview here.
Updated at 9:31 p.m. to state Powell's position at Broadband for America.