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Salazar said the country four years ago was importing 60 percent of its oil, and that number has dropped to 45 percent today.

“We can see the energy independence of the United States within our grasp,” he said.

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Jason Dearen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/JHDearen.

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Online:

Map of the new solar energy zones: http://on.doi.gov/SWf5y1