Alaska's governor Friday accused Exxon of launching a public relations campaign to shift blame for the nation's biggest oil spill away from itself onto state and federal officials.

"This is a public relations effort," said an angry Gov. Steve Cowper at a news conference in Juneau, the state capital. "Exxon is trying to give the state a black eye. I suppose P.R. firms are telling Exxon what to say, but we're hearing the same false statements time and time again."On Capitol Hill and in press briefings, top Exxon officials have insisted they were prevented from moving quickly with chemical dispersants to break up the 10.9 million gallon spill by the Coast Guard and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

DEC said Exxon had authority to spray chemical dispersants after the Exxon Valdez ran aground March 24 but indicated at the time that dispersants would be ineffective and, when Exxon finally did use them, they didn't work.

Cowper, in a 2-page letter Friday to Exxon Chairman Lawrence Rawl, accused Exxon of "demonstrably false" statements in "systematic effort to mislead the public."