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In Watt v. Energy Action Educational Foundation, the Supreme Court rebutted a challenge to the federal government's mix of "nontraditional" outer continental shelflease-auction mechanisms authorized under the 1978 OCS Amendments. The issues of this case addressed here include: the economic intent of the congressional language; incentive properties of various of the authorized auction processes; methodological shortcomings inherent in the implicit congressional directive for field experimentation; and, the usefulness of laboratory experimental economics in answering relevant auction-policy questions. The discussion of experimental economics includes evidence already gained from laboratory experiments relating to hypotheses about auction-market performance


This article was originally published in Supreme Court Economic Review, volume 2, in 1983.

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University of Chicago



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