BP and the Coast Guard call them meetings to discuss "right-sizing'' future oil response operations in the Panhandle.
Officials there, however, fear there might be another purpose behind the sessions.
"They want to wrap this thing up and put a bow on it,'' said Gordon Goodin, a commissioner from Santa Rosa County. "It sounds like BP wants to claim victory and go.''
BP officials say that's not the case at all.
"We are entering into a new phase,'' said company spokeswoman Lucia Bustamante. "We have gotten over the emergency crisis response and moved to a more long-term kind of response. The intensity and type of work has changed since the oil was capped.''
Don Gaetz, a state senator who represents much of the affected coastline in North Florida, hopes the company means what it says.
"I don't want to see BP putting up a 'mission accomplished' sign when we are halfway through the war," Gaetz said.
At issue are two "informal meetings'' planned Tuesday in the Panhandle - one in Destin and another in Panama City - in which a small number of officials were invited to attend.
"I don't know what is going on, but it is not good,'' Goodin said. "I sure don't have a warm, fuzzy feeling going into this meeting.''
Panhandle counties have been dealing with the brunt of the direct oil impact and economic fallout since the April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig off the Louisiana coastline. Once oil started washing ashore in Northwest Florida in early June, many elected officials complained about a lack of local involvement in helping to combat the oil invasion.
The situation got better when branch offices were opened in several counties to help plan response efforts, but now Goodin and others are worried that the effort may be taking more than a few steps backward.
"We started on a sour note and it looks like we are going to end on a sour note,'' he said. "They don't want any more bad news. The best way is to close a blind eye to it.''
A Coast Guard official said this afternoon that the agency doesn't plan to abandon efforts in the Panhandle.
"The entire operation is constantly a moving evolution,'' said Chief Warrant Officer Scott Carr, a spokesman for the Coast Guard in Mobile, Ala. "It can grow or shrink as time goes on.''
The meetings on Tuesday are an attempt to brief local officials on what the changing needs are of the response, Carr said. For instance, the lack of oil on the water may mean it's no longer necessary to have skimmers working in an area. They can be pulled off the water and put on standby somewhere.
"It's about making sure we have the right resources for the right job,'' the Coast Guard official said.
Bustamante echoed those comments, saying BP will stay until all parties involved decide the beaches have been cleaned.
"It's a commitment down the line,'' she said.
Just in case the company decides otherwise, Gaetz said he has kept all of the full-page newspaper advertisements that BP has bought where the company promised to make things right.
"While we are deeply grateful that the broken well has been capped,'' he said, "the containment and cleanup and recovery efforts are far from over.
"We're going to hold them to their commitment,'' the state senator said of BP. "If not, they will have a very tough time doing business in Florida.''
Grover Robinson, a county commissioner from Escambia, said the company has been pulling out some of the boom and downsizing the 1,500 workers assigned to clean up the mess on Florida's westernmost beaches.
He said he does not have a problem with that, as long as there are daily reconnaissance missions to look for oil, and skimmers ready to be deployed if they do spot some.
"I think in some areas they could be out-and-out very close to pulling out,'' he said of BP efforts in counties farther to the east. "In Escambia County, we still have people here because we still have some product here. The cleanup is not by any means all the way done.''