The Senate on Monday approved David Bernhardt 53-43 to be deputy secretary of the Interior despite opposition from Democrats and environmental groups.

Democrats had criticized Bernhardt for his ties to the fossil fuel industry during his time in private practice as a lawyer and adviser to energy companies.

In his defense, Republicans pointed out that while Bernhardt was counsel to the Interior Department, he oversaw the process that led to protections for the polar bear and established an ethics board that still exists.

Environmental groups ahead of the vote said that just last week there were reports that Bernhardt continued to receive payments from clients even though he was officially delisted as a lobbyist.

"Bernhardt has years of experience serving corporate polluters, so he's going to fit right into the Trump administration's Department of Interior," said Ben Schreiber, senior political strategist for the Friends of the Earth. "Americans want our public lands protected, not plundered for corporate profit. The senators who voted to confirm Bernhardt are enabling Trump's trashing of America's public lands."