There’s a lot of interest here in Washington about online video and some of the policy issues surrounding its explosive growth. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has been holding a series of hearings looking at new technologies, and invited YouTube’s Chad Hurley to testify at today’s hearing focusing on online video.

Committee Chairman Ed Markey (who posted his own video of a chairman’s-eye view of the hearing – surely a YouTube first) welcomed Chad, as well the leaders of TiVo, Sling Media, and HDNet.

“It's my first appearance in front of a Congressional committee," Chad told the committee, "and I hope I don't mess up because if I do, it will end up on You Tube." Chad focused on three of YouTube’s goals: promoting community, advancing democracy, and driving economic growth.

He told the story of Leigh Buckley, a mother of two from Derry, New Hampshire, who discovered that she was suffering from leukemia. A family friend made and posted a video about Leigh’s search for a bone marrow donor on YouTube; that video helped draw more than a thousand people to a registry drive. A donor was found, in Denmark, and Leigh began treatments last Friday to prepare her for the transplant.

Chad also talked about YouTube’s You Choose ’08 program, which helps inform voters where political candidates stand. Seventeen presidential candidates are currently on YouTube, and already they've combined to post over 500 videos that have been viewed millions of times.

In the area of economic growth, Chad noted that YouTube is helping recording artists attract contracts with major labels, and giving owners of small businesses, such as real estate agents and music teachers a significantly less expensive way of finding new customers.

Net neutrality,and the idea of keeping the Internet free and open, was a big topic of discussion. For his part, Chad told the committee that “YouTube and many other successful new Internet businesses would never have launched had it not been for this country’s commitment to an open Internet.”

A few Members of Congress asked Chad about how YouTube handles both inappropriate content and copyrighted content. Chad told the committee that videos that include unauthorized copyrights are removed as soon as we are made aware by the rights holder, and those that violate YouTube’s Community Guidelines come down minutes after our users flag them. “As a father of two, that last part is particularly important to me,” he said.