By Devin White, Environmental Advocacy Fellow
West Michigan Environmental Action Council
AJ Birkbeck was a tireless legal advocate, leader, and protector in the fight against PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) contamination in Northern Kent County. These ‘forever chemicals’ have impacted public and private water supplies of millions of people worldwide and have been linked to a variety of adverse health effects. As founder of Fulcrum Law Group in Grand Rapids, he pursued his passion for the environment while defending and supporting communities affected by toxic contamination.
He provided the legal backbone and advice to the Concerned Citizens for Responsible Remediation (CCRR) who successfully petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate contamination from the Wolverine Worldwide Tannery and affiliated sites in Rockford and Belmont, Michigan. But his work did not stop there, he continued to push Michigan leaders to continue to investigate and remediate the PFAS contamination. Through the remediation process, his thoughtful leadership helped to restore clean drinking water to over 1,000 contaminated residential wells.
In this work, he was a tireless collaborator who worked with many different groups to find solutions to the PFAS problem. He was an inspiring leader who brought change to Michigan through his work. AJ showed throughout his life what a true environmental advocate looks like and has modeled for future generations how to protect the environment.
On May 31, 2023, family, friends, and environmental leaders will be gathering at the Rockford Rotary Pavilion to honor the legacy of AJ Birkbeck.