Rafe Petersen

  • T 202.419.2481

Rafe Petersen is a partner in Holland & Knight's Washington, D.C., office and is a member of the firm's Government Section. He primarily focuses on litigation and counseling in administrative, environmental and the federal fair housing laws.

Mr. Petersen's environmental practice includes environmental compliance, enforcement and litigation, with an emphasis on the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and water and natural resource issues. Mr. Petersen is experienced in environmental litigation at both trial and appellate levels and has filed several amicus briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court. He also defends clients in enforcement actions in both administrative and federal courts. In addition, he assists clients in complex permitting and regulatory issues for large-scale commercial, residential housing, mining, infrastructure and energy projects. This includes obtaining permits and other authorizations for wetlands and stream impacts, water management, incidental take coverage under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), as well as the necessary NEPA approvals. Mr. Petersen also assists clients in responding to administrative rulemaking efforts by federal agencies and in challenging final agency actions under the Administrative Procedure Act.

For example, Mr. Petersen has assisted clients in the following matters:

  • negotiated permit terms and conditions, responded to comments and assisted in preparing other authorizations (e.g., Environmental Impact Statements) obtained from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Transit Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and various state and local agencies
  • advised clients on public-private partnerships related to water infrastructure
  • challenged federal rules and litigated issues related to federal jurisdiction and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA)
  • defended permits for a wide spectrum of activities, including federal transportation projects, mining operations, housing developments, offshore drilling activities, oceanfront communities, residential and commercial development, and energy development projects
  • negotiated both Section 7 and Section 10 incidental take permit coverage under the ESA, including approval of several Habitat Conservation Plans
  • participated in federal and state rulemaking and other efforts related to issues such as the methodology for assessing wetland impacts and the amount of mitigation required to offset those impacts, stormwater management regulations, CWA jurisdictional and water quality issues and NEPA guidance on mitigation
  • provided environmental compliance training to various types of companies
  • defended parties against both private and federal government enforcement actions concerning stormwater management, impacts to wetland and streams and "take" of endangered species
  • counseled purchasers, sellers and lenders during environmental due diligence on a wide spectrum of business and real estate deals
  • counseled landowners and material suppliers on regulations related to disposal of hazardous and other materials on property

Mr. Petersen assists clients with compliance and litigation related to the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He provides advice concerning the requirements of the FHA and ADA issues and defends multifamily, condominium, hotel, timeshare, student housing, and commercial developers and managers against lawsuits pertaining to construction and design requirements of those statutes, as well as disability and accommodation claims by residents, guests and customers.

For example, Mr. Petersen has assisted clients in the following matters:

  • defended insurance companies against disparate impact claims
  • defended multifamily housing owners and managers against claims brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and private advocacy groups related to the design and construction of communities and portfolios of property (e.g., "pattern and practice" cases)
  • negotiated settlements of various lawsuits related to FHA and ADA violations
  • counseled property owners and managers, banks, hotels and restaurants concerning the FHA and ADA requirements as well as obligations to meet the specific needs of disabled residents

Mr. Petersen has published numerous articles on a wide variety of topics, including wetlands and endangered species issues, as well as fair housing issues. He is co-author of the ABA's Endangered Species Deskbook (2nd Edition 2010).

Honors & Awards

  • Washington, D.C., Super Lawyers magazine, 2014-2017
  • Outstanding Services Award, American Bar Association Military Pro Bono Project, 2012-2016
  • Phi Beta Kappa
  • Fulbright Scholar
  • The Environmental Lawyer, a partnership between The George Washington University Law School and the American Bar Association's Section on Environment, Energy, and Resources, Editorial Board