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Oklahoma is famous for its oil and gas production. But Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt is wooing clean energy companies to the Sooner State as part of his efforts to rebuild the economy and create more jobs.

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National Impact
Regional Impact

Top Allies

Oklahoma House Delegation
Republican Reps. Frank Lucas, Tom Cole, Kevin Hern, Josh Brecheen, Stephanie Bice
Sen. James Lankford
Sen. Markwayne Mullin

Top 5 Aides

Brandon Tatum
Chief of Staff
Josh Cockroft
Deputy Chief of Staff
Brian Bingman
Secretary of State
Christina Gungoll Lepore
Director of DC Office and Senior Advisor to the Governor
Carly Atchison
Communications Director and Senior Advisor to the Governor

State Budget

FY 2023
$10.68 billion

State Population


State Unemployment Rate

As of December 2022

Fortune 500 Companies

ONEOK, Devon Energy and Williams


First Elected Governor

Reelected for second term

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on pandemic recovery and creating clean energy jobs

Oklahoma’s business-first governor wants a slice of America’s clean energy future

Fresh off reelection, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) is ready to reprise the approach to governance that he says has set up his state for success coming out of the pandemic.

Stitt, first elected in 2019, is in some ways an extremely typical Republican leader. A former entrepreneur who started a financial services business in his garage, Stitt says Oklahoma’s hands-off approach to COVID-19 – no mask mandate, limited school closures – played a key role in the state’s current trajectory.

“Oklahoma has greatly benefited coming out of the pandemic,” Stitt said. We now are number 10 in the country – and not per capita, but the true numbers – of people moving to our state.”

That was no sure thing in the weeks just after COVID-19 hit the U.S. when Oklahoma’s unemployment rate shot up to 12.6%. But today, the state’s unemployment rate matches the national average of 3.4%.

At first glance, Stitt’s approach to state politics will sound familiar to anyone following national Republicans. One of the Oklahoma native’s earliest actions as governor was to sign an executive order directing state agencies to slash “redundant” regulations – a clear but less sweeping echo of former President Donald Trump’s commitment to undo two federal regulations for every new rule implemented.

Stitt said he wanted to reduce the state’s number of regulations by 25%, part of a wider goal of establishing a “level playing field” for businesses.

“The thing that derails companies is if there’s not a level playing field, and so that’s the thing I say from a government perspective: We don’t create jobs, we just create a level playing field and let businesses go compete,” Stitt said.

And Stitt says that work isn’t done as he enters his second term.

“I tell industry: Let me know where there’s redundant or duplicative regulations from different agencies,” Stitt said. “We want to be clear about the rules, but we never want to play gotcha with industry.

This is all standard-issue Republican politics. But in other ways, Stitt’s office is pushing the boundaries of how we’d expect a GOP leader to approach economic development.

More than just oil and gas

Oklahoma may be best known for its oil and gas industry. But Stitt’s administration has pushed hard in recent years to grab a slice of the U.S.’ renewable energy revolution and spur economic growth and job creation. He’s luring electric vehicle companies and key parts of their supply chains, such as battery development.

Stitt said he doesn’t believe energy production needs to be a zero-sum game between renewable and non-renewable energy.

“We have embraced more of everything, all-of-the-above approach. Most people just think of us as an oil and gas [state], and we’re proud of our oil and gas industry,” Stitt said. “But here’s what people don’t realize about us: we’re number two in wind energy production. We’re number six in solar potential.”

"I think manufacturers are looking more and more to states like Oklahoma, specifically on electric vehicles. We know that's where the R&D dollars are headed." Kevin Stitt Oklahoma Gov | R

It’s an approach that’s seen some success as well as some obstacles. In late 2022, the commercial electric vehicle company Canoo agreed to set up shop in Oklahoma City and begin producing batteries in the state.

Oklahoma has also tried to woo Panasonic, a Japanese conglomerate that frequently partners with Tesla, to put billions of dollars towards an E.V. battery plant. But Panasonic instead picked Kansas in July. The Wall Street Journal reported in August that Panasonic was still mulling an Oklahoma-based plant, however.

Sttit said he’s committed to continuing to pursue these projects in his state, particularly as federal dollars stream towards various components of the emerging clean energy sector.

“I think manufacturers are looking more and more to states like Oklahoma, specifically on electric vehicles. We know that’s where the R&D dollars are headed,” Stitt said.

Strings attached to federal dollars

That’s not to say Stitt doesn’t have any complaints about federal investment in emerging technologies and industries. He told us that the “strings” that often come attached to federal funds can reduce just how useful they are for states trying to bring projects to fruition.

“On the national level, they collect a lot of revenue up there. But it’s still the states that have to execute on that,” Stitt said. “They have to build the buildings, build the roads and the bridges and do the [requests for proposals]. Sometimes, the federal government comes in with all the strings attached and says, ‘you must do this or you must do that.’”

"We’ve got 50 different laboratories of democracy, and we understand that Oklahoma is going to do things differently than they do in Kansas, or California, or Florida or Texas. And that’s OK.” Kevin Stitt Oklahoma Gov | R

“We’ve got 50 different laboratories of democracy, and we understand that Oklahoma is going to do things differently than they do in Kansas, or California, or Florida or Texas,” Stitt added. “And that’s OK.”

As for Stitt’s political future? The Oklahoman says he doesn’t think of politics as a career and hopes to rejoin the private sector. He argued to us that his mentality helps him focus on the job at hand.

“I think our founding fathers wanted you to be a successful business person or farmer or rancher or school teacher, and you leave that to go serve your state or your country,” Stitt said. “Then, you come back to the private sector. When you have that mentality, you literally can focus on the next generation, and not the next election.”

– Brendan Pedersen

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