Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana, among the harshest critics, said the issue promised to be a major topic at the Western Governors Association meeting in Phoenix next week.
"I'm going to stand up among a bunch of elected governors and say, 'Are we going to allow the military without a shot being fired to effectively do an end-run coup on civilian government?' " said Mr. Schweitzer, a Democrat. "We're going to have a little civics lesson for some leaders who are apparently out of touch in the military."
President Bush suggested in September that the active military ought to have a greater role in responding to disasters. He said its training, command structure and resources put it in a better position to lead recovery efforts. Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander for the United States Northern Command, has endorsed the idea as well.
Some in Congress and the Pentagon have been lukewarm to the idea, and governors of both parties have said the administration will be overstepping if it follows through.
"It's a bad idea for the military to make that decision and usurp the authority that under the U.S. Constitution stays with the governor and local authorities," Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, a Republican, said last month.
Mr. Schweitzer said he became even more irate after seeing a copy of an e-mail message circulating among National Guard commanders this week that contended active-duty military leaders were suggesting taking federal control even further.
The e-mail message, written by Maj. Gen. Timothy Lowenberg of the Washington National Guard, contends that Admiral Keating has been telling military officers that National Guard officers are not capable of handling "command and control."