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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - The Democratic-controlled Legislature's rejection of new regulations for metallic mineral mining in Maine is drawing praise from environmental groups who say the rules are too weak.

But what's next in the contentious debate over potential mining operations in the state remains unclear.

The rules were drafted by Maine environmental officials and approved by the Board of Environmental Protection in January, but needed the green light from lawmakers before they can go into effect.

Lawmakers refused to do so because they said they don't include strong enough environmental protections. They adjourned early Friday, meaning that the state's two-decades-old regulations remain in place.

The department said Friday that it's still reviewing what its next steps will be, but believes the rules it crafted follow the law and would protect the environment.

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