The Cree local government appoints the LEA. The powers of local governments are described in section 45 of the Cree-Naskapi (of Quebec) Act adopted by the House of Commons of Canada in 1984, pursuant to section 9 of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement (JBNQA) signed in 1975. Section 45 (1) provides for the adoption of by-laws by Cree First Nations for the good government and control of their category 1A lands. Section 45 (1) (e) specifies that they can adopt by-laws respecting the protection of the environment, including natural resources. Each of the nine Cree First Nations has adopted a By-Law Concerning the Protection of the Environment. The LEA is responsible for the application of this By-law. The By-law provides the local authorities with the routine control over environmental management that they need and prohibits activities that cause environmental pollution.
The Cree Local Government Administrator responsible for the protection of the environment is also the "Administrator" as defined in section 22 of the JBNQA that established an environmental and social protection regime applicable to Eeyou Istchee. This regime provides for an environmental and social impact assessment and review procedure and a special status and involvement for the Cree people where along with the federal and provincial Administrators, the local Administrator plays a central role in the triggering of the process and the issuing of authorizations for projects.