The American Petroleum Institute (API), which represents major producers, has launched an advertising campaign this week that touts the importance of oil and gas production in rebuilding the U.S. economy.

The “Keys to the Future” campaign, which initially will be online and in print, will run for 10 weeks in Washington, DC, and nine key states — Arkansas, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin and West Virginia. The focus will be on a host of issues, beginning with the need for expanded onshore and offshore drilling, energy security, job creation and revenues to the federal government.

The grassroots campaign comes as the Obama administration is considering its five-year program (2012-2017) for leasing in the Outer Continental Shelf. The administration has proposed lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico for that time period, but none off the East or West coasts.

During a teleconference with reporters Wednesday, API President Jack Gerard declined to say how much the institute planned to spend on the ad campaign, but he did say it would be “significant.” He believes the oil and gas industry can be a “major constructive force” in rebuilding the U.S. economy. However, Gerard said it’s taking policymakers far too long to realize this. “We’re trying to encourage public policy officials to take action” in the energy arena.

“We believe that with the right policies, the oil and gas industry could generate one million new American jobs, increase revenues to our government — taxes, royalties and other payments — by more than $1 trillion, and reduce our trade deficit by a cumulative $1 trillion or more over a decade,” Gerard said.

API released an analysis that shows the United States could meet 92% of its liquid fuel demand from domestic and Canadian sources by 2030, up considerably from the current level of 62%. To achieve this, he said the U.S. would need:

“It’s great news for America,” said Gerard, when asked to comment on ExxonMobil Corp.’s announcement Wednesday of two “major” oil discoveries and a natural gas discovery in the deepwater Gulf’s Keathley Canyon after drilling the company’s first post-moratorium deepwater exploration well (see related story). He said the oil and gas finds ranked among “some of the largest in the last decade in the U.S.”

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