Putting aside the credibility argument, I thought I’d help answer this bit. An anti-nuke policy is certainly defensible (though in my view ultimately wrong).
First, nuclear power will not be a solution for much of the world (either because countries cannot afford it or because we won’t let them have the most advanced technology). If we want to solve the global problem of climate change, we must create innovative solutions that can be shared with all nations. Additionally, even if countries could all afford nuclear power and we let them have it, it just doesn’t fit everywhere. Many countries need more flexible electrical grids than nuclear energy will allow. Therefore, if the US relies on nuclear energy to deal with it’s CO2 emissions, we will not be using our collective creative force to innovate solutions the rest of the world can use. This is basically Al Gore’s argument against nukes (I believe).
Second, we don’t have a way of dealing with nuclear waste yet. Part of the reason the anti-nuke crowd existed in the first place was because the federal policy on nuclear waste was (and still is) largely non-existent and in shambles where it does exist. In 1970, for example, the DOE (then the AEC) began constructing a facility in Kansas. This was ended when state inspectors discovered that the facility would have leaked waste into local groundwater, despite assurances from the federal researchers that they had performed the proper geological inspections. Today, they haven’t gotten much better. In 2005 it was discovered that federal authorities were falsifying safety documents related to Yucca. Yucca remains unbuilt, and while it is scheduled for licensing in the next decade, it is unlikely to be licensed in that time. So building more nuclear power plants without knowing what we’re going to do with the waste is irresponsible. Like building a house without any toilets.*
Third, nuclear may not be as clean as wind or other options. The nuclear industry, including building the very large and complicated plants, actually produces a lot of CO2. Since we don’t yet know what we’re going to do about waste (or about decommissioning plants), we cannot fully evaluate the CO2 impact of over the life cycle of a nuclear power plant. It is no doubt better than coal and many options, but it may not be the best option and our policy efforts might be better focused elsewhere.
I don’t know much about the risks of terrorist attack, the creation of dirty bombs using spent fuel, or the effects of uranium enrichment on nuclear proliferation, but I understand that those are legitimate concerns as well. So the anti-nuke “crowd” certainly has a rational leg to stand on. They aren’t the loonies you and others have portrayed them as.